The Uniting Church’s community services agency has welcomed the federal government’s commitment to developing an LGBTI ageing policy.

The announcement last week followed an April 2012 decision by the government to include LGBTI people as a special needs group under the Aged Care Act and includes the provision of $2.5 million over the next five years to train aged-care workers to better support LGBTI seniors.

UnitingCare Ageing director Steve Teulan applauded the new strategy along with the earlier commitments

“The federal government’s announcement shows that it is in touch with the specific needs of an important and often marginalised group of older people and the challenges facing our sector in meeting those needs as well as possible,” he said.

UnitingCare previously appointed an LGBTI project officer to understand the needs and current shortfalls of aged care services.

“There’s a growing awareness in the aged care industry that the LGBTI communities have been under-represented,” LGBTI project officer Kellie Shields said.

“We have elderly people in our community who have not been highlighted as a special needs group until very recently.”

UnitingCare said ABS and Kinsey Institute figures showed the number of older LGBTI Australians is expected to rise approximately 500,000 people by the year 2051.

“Our commitment to social equality drives innovation to better provide for people with special needs. Clearly, that is a view shared by the Minister for Ageing and the federal government,” Teulan said.

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