Australia’s peak LGBTI health body has broadly welcomed the inclusion of LGBTI seniors in the Productivity Commission’s report into aged care – Caring for Older Australians.
The final report, released this week, details the concerns of LGBTI seniors, including fear of discrimination in aged care services.
“Many older gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people have experienced considerable discrimination over the course of their lives and this may continue in aged care where their sexuality and/or gender identity are not recognised or supported in the delivery of aged care services,” the report stated.
National LGBTI Health Alliance CEO Warren Talbot said the inclusion is welcome.
“The main reason we welcome the report is there is explicit recognition of the needs of gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex older people in Australia,” Talbot told the Star Observer.
“There had been some concern that the Commission may have subsumed LGBTI people under a general category of [cultural and linguistic] diversity, the Commission hasn’t done that and that’s a very positive thing in terms of recognition of LGBTI concerns.”
Talbot said it now up to the Department of Health and Ageing to be proactive and come up with ways to deal with the problem.
“There is now a number of questions for government to consider in terms of government’s response to the report and what actions it will take,” he said.
Gerontologist and GLBTI ageing expert Dr Jo Harrison said including the needs of LGBTI seniors in the report was a “ significant historical breakthrough.”
“It lays the groundwork for us to make sure that the government follows through on the issues raised, including the need for GLBTI inclusive policies and services, the training of providers, the provision of independent advocacy services, further research and the identification of GLBTI friendly services,” Harrison said.
Last month GLBTI seniors advocates urged the Gillard Government to develop a national action plan to take a coordinated approach to ensuring aged-care services are GLBTI-friendly across Australia.
After the report’s release, Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler announced he will tour Australia to seek the views of the aged care sector before the government responds.
“It will be extremely valuable for all of us to be able to convey our concerns and obtain some concrete commitments from government during the consultation process to take place over the next few months,” Harrison said.
Harrison said it was important LGBTI seniors who are reliant on the pension are not worse off under any moves towards degregulating aged-care services and said any new regulatory systems must ensure there is no risk of discrimination or abuse to LGBTI elders.