There have been significant reforms in Australia over the past 5 years recognising the rights of older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. There are great resources available and many of these have come from Val's Cafe, a project promoting the health and wellbeing of older LGBTI Australians. Val's Cafe was established in 2009 by Catherine Barrett and has a fantastic website of resources (see valscafe.org.au). In 2016 Catherine Barrett also established Alice's Garage, a network and blog to empower older LGBTI Australians.
On this page we share key resources relating to LGBTI Elders in Australia. We provide a brief overview and then links to the resource.
Aboriginal LGBTI Elders
It is important to understand the experiences of Indigenous LGBTI Australians. Noel Tovey AM has generously shared his story in articles, film, performance and presentations. Noel wrote an article for the LGBTI Special Edition of the Australasian Journal on Ageing. It's an important place to start and has the same title as Noel's wonderful book Little Black Bastard
Older LGBTI people experience elder abuse in ways that we are only just beginning to understand. In particular, abuse on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex. It is important that these particular forms of abuse are understood - so that they can be prevented. The document below is a Submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission on Elder Abuse. You may also like to follow the Tango Project, which is being conducted by Alice's Garage.
Submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission on Elder Abuse (here)
Val's Cafe was funded by the Department of Health, Victoria to work with Aged Care Assessment Teams on the development of a resource for LGBTI inclusive aged care assessment. The resulting guide to assessment was developed in consultation with aged care assessors and is an important tool for anyone working with older LGBTI people, and particularly for assessment staff.
LGBTI inclusive aged care assessment guide sheets (here)
Alice's Garage is a collection of projects and a blog established in 2016 as part of Celebrate Ageing. The blog provides information to older LGBTI people to promote empowerment and is maintained by a number of older LGBTI bloggers.
Val's Cafe was funded by the Department of Social Services to work in partnership with Carers Australia to document the experiences and needs of older LGBTI carers and the carers of older LGBTI people. Interviews and a survey form the basis of a resource that includes stories from carers and a guide to LGBTI inclusive services for carers
An extra degree of difficulty. Narrative resource (here)
An extra degree of difficulty. Guide to inclusive services (here)
There is a myth that being 'gay' is just about who a person has sex with and that being 'trans' is just about clothes a person wears. The Team from Val's Cafe wrote a useful and accessible paper on older LGBTI people and the importance of culturally safe services. This paper is particularly useful for service providers who don't understand why LGBTI inclusive services are necessary. Val's Cafe also received funding from the Department of Social Services to develop a guide to culturally safe services. This included a national survey and the development of a guide called: On the Same Page
It's more than sex and clothes: culturally safe services for older LGBT people. Article (link)
On the same page (link coming soon)
There was a myth that LGBT people who had dementia 'became straight'. To address this myth and document the experiences and needs of LGBT people living with dementia, the team from Val's Cafe interviewed LGBT people living with dementia. The project was a partnership with Alzheimer's Australia and was funded by the Department of Social Services. A number of resources were developed from this research include:
One of the key turning points in recognition of older LGBTI Australians was a research report commissioned by Matrix Guild of Victoria and Vintage Men Inc, funded by the Reichstein Foundation in 2007. The research documented for the first time in Australia older LGBT people's experiences of aged care. The narratives in the My People report created a powerful visibility. The research was followed up with research on service providers perspectives on caring for older LGBTI people.
My People: Experiences of LGBT people in aged care. Research report (here)
In 2009 the Department of Health in Victoria implemented a diversity planning framework for Home and Community Care (HACC) Services. The diversity framework required that HACC services consider the diversity of clients - including LGBTI clients. The Department included a chapter on LGBTI clients needs in their resource on diversity planning and then commissioned Val's Cafe to write a HACC Pack or guide to LGBTI inclusive HACC services.
In 2014 Val's Cafe was funded by the Department of Social Services to document a guide to Intersex ageing and aged care. The project was a partnership with OII and interviewed two intersex people about their experiences and their suggestions for intersex inclusive aged care services. Project outputs included a narrative resource, a guide to practice and a journal paper.
Appropriate bodies and other damn lies. Article (link)
Mental health and wellbeing
In 2010 Val's Cafe and Curtin University were commissioned by beyondblue to work with older LGBTI Australians experiences of discrimination and the impacts on their mental wellbeing. The stories in the No Need To Straighten Up report are such an important read. Five years later Val's Cafe worked with the National Ageing Research Institute and RMIT University on another beyondblue funded project documenting older LGBTI people's strategies for promoting their mental wellbeing. Links to the research report and a journal article are provided
Social Connections, relationships and older lesbian and gay people. Article (here)
Improving mental health for older LGBTI Australians. Report (here)
Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria has developed a set of national standards for LGBTI inclusive services. The standards can be utilised by organisations to understand where the benchmark is in terms of the development of LGBTI inclusive services. The standards also form the basis of the Rainbow Tick - a process whereby organisations can be formally accredited by external assessors against the standards.
Information about the national standards for LGBTI inclusive practice (link)
Beyond a rainbow sticker. Report on the 2013 program: How2 create an LGBTI inclusive service (link)
Beyond we treat everyone the same. Report on the 2011 program: How2 create an LGBTI inclusive service (link)
LGBTI inclusive practice: working in rural communities (here)
Self assessment and planning tool for services
Val's Cafe developed a resource for aged care service providers interested in developing LGBTI inclusive services. The Self Assessment and Planning Tool explores the application of the national standards for LGBTI inclusive practice to aged care services. For each indicator a number of considerations and suggestions for service improvement are provided. Undertaking this simple self audit is an important starting point on the journey to LGBTI inclusive services
In 2012 the Federal Government developed a National Strategy for LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Services. The Strategy is a world first and has bipartisan support. The Strategy review document has also now been launched - and the Diversity Plan that followed it.
The National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy (here)
Val's Cafe was funded by the Department of Health and Social Services to document trans people's experiences of ageing and aged care. The project was a collaboration with Transgender Victoria, The Gender Centre NSW and FTM Shed. The project interviewed trans people about their experiences and documented a narrative resource and guide to trans inclusive services. These resources are important because they help service providers understand how important it is to ensure LGBTI inclusivity does not simply focus on gay and lesbian issues.
Val's Cafe is a national project promoting the health and wellbeing of older LGBTI Australians. The Cafe sits at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University. The Cafe has a part time coordinator and is a fantastic resource. Sign up to their regular newsletter for updates