In a year when much of the community is being forced into a sense of isolation, initiatives such as Switchboard Victoria’s Out & About program are ever more important.
COVID-19 challenges us all to find new ways of keeping connections alive. Now more than ever, services that support older LGBTQI people to connect with our own community are critical. Over this time phone visits, letters, cards and online visits (where possible) have temporarily replaced face to face visits.
One such program is Out & About, which is a free peer visiting service connecting older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTQI) people. The program’s volunteers offer safe, welcoming friendship and social connection for LGBTQI seniors across Victoria via virtual contacts and a staged return to face-to-face visits continue during COVID-19.
Until face-to-face visits can resume care packages and letter writing campaigns carry messages of support from staff, volunteers and communities. Volunteers are screened, receive training and supervision, and are updated weekly about COVID-19 safe requirements. Switchboard and its staff are ready to return to in-person visits as soon as it is safe to do so.
Being connected with community is good for our health, wellbeing and sense of self. Everyone deserves the chance to have meaningful connections with others who understand and respect our histories, experiences and identity.
Through the Out & About program, friendships are nurtured and social isolation reduced for older LGBTQI people. You don’t need to be “out” to access the program. To take part, you simply need to:
- be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (or unsure/questioning), AND
- live anywhere in Victoria, AND
- be approved for or receiving a Home Care Package at home, OR Living in residential aged care*.
Anyone can make a referral easily online, by phone, email or post.
Watch ABC Life’s story about Out & About friends Clynton and Haydn on YouTube
Contact Switchboard on 1800 729 367 or email email@example.com
*From time to time Switchboard have some places for LGBTQI people aged 60+ (50+ Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander, living with HIV or trans/gender diverse) who don’t meet the criteria above. Contact them to enquire or learn about services similar to Out & About.