The Victorian Government has awarded community health organisation Switchboard an $80,000 grant to continue its work supporting LGBTI seniors.

The grant comes after the federal government walked back funding cuts to Switchboard’s Out and About program, which supports older LGBTI Australians in regional areas.

It was revealed in January that Switchboard had been notified of the federal funding cuts in December, forcing them to attempt to fundraise $300,000.

The federal Labor Party had committed to restoring the funding if they won the upcoming election, before the government stepped in to restore sufficient funding for the program to continue.

The grant will go towards better supporting the needs of LGBTI seniors by allowing Switchboard to partner with groups including Transgender Victoria and Val’s LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care.

“For over 28 years Switchboard Victoria has been connecting LGBTI communities and we are excited to be taking this further with the Victorian Government’s support,” said Switchboard CEO Joe Ball.

“We know from what LGBTI seniors tell us and evidence-based research, that meaningful community connection and belonging is crucial for the health, wellbeing and safety of older LGBTI people.”

The new initiative will see Switchboard work with other groups across two years to inspire organisations to be more inclusive, and to support the safety and wellbeing of LGBTI seniors.

The grants come as part of the Strengthening Seniors Inclusion and Participation Grants, which are part of the Andrews Government’s policies around improving community-base support for older people who can often face social isolation and significant barriers to belonging.

Three organisations are receiving grants to prevent isolation and loneliness in older people, specifically focusing on projects that increase local support, and reach out to culturally diverse and LGBTI seniors.

“Older people tend to look to their local community for opportunities to get involved and we want to make it easier for them to find support that meets their needs,” Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan said.

“These grants are about strengthening community connections to help protect older people from experiencing isolation and loneliness.”

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