Financial support to nurture LGBTI inclusive aged care

A new grants round focusing on the healthy ageing of older LGBTI people will fund projects that begin to rectify issues that have previously hindered their engagement with aged care.

A new round of funding for projects that focus on the healthy ageing of older LGBTI people has been announced by the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia (GALFA), in conjunction with the Sidney Myer Fund.

GALFA director and treasurer Ian Gould said he hopes the grant will fund projects that begin to rectify issues that have previously hindered LGBTI engagement with aged care services. He said that as many LGBTI seniors grew up in an era where homosexuality was illegal, they have often experienced profound discrimination and can be fearful of disclosing their sexuality or gender identity when entering mainstream aged care services.

“The aged care environment – from beginning to end – should welcome, embrace and understand same-sex attracted couples as a part of society just like anyone else,” said Mr Gould.

The grant, now in its third round, is part of the Sidney Myer Fund Poverty and Disadvantage Small Grants Program and is valued up to $15,000. This funding round is focused on nationally applicable strategies connected with the physical or emotional wellbeing of older LGBTI people, independent living or intergenerational support.

Mr Gould encouraged applicants from all areas of health and aged care. “We don’t want to assume that it’s only LGBTI-focused health providers, research groups or community groups who’ve got some of the solutions. Mainstream aged care can have equally good or better ideas to be exploring,” he said.

‘Meaningfully connect with LGBTI people’

Last December, Helping Hand was named the grant’s first recipient for their program Turn Up Your Voice, which works with experts in the field to provide LGBTI consumers and carers a safe and supportive environment to actively engage in the ongoing development and delivery of their care. Turn Up Your Voice is part of a broader plan to help Helping Hand achieve the Rainbow Tick accreditation, a set of national standards around LGBTI inclusivity developed by Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria.

Angela Littleford, general manager of Helping Hand’s metropolitan services division and executive sponsor of the project, said the idea for Turn Up Your Voice came from their desire to meaningfully connect with LGBTI people in their care who may have previously felt invisible or afraid to speak up.

“We want to understand what we can do differently; what might make people feel more comfortable in either accessing aged care services or coming into residential care,” she told AAA.

The second healthy ageing project to be funded by GALFA and the Sidney Myer Fund was The National LGBTI Health Alliance’s Virtual Visitors. The online visitor scheme is designed to build networks of support for older LGBTI people who are socially isolated or living alone, particularly those in rural or regional areas who may be at higher risk of mental health issues.

Mr Gould said that as LGBTI specific-issues were a relatively new area of focus for aged care, he has been pleased by the positivity and creativity seen so far in response to the grant.

“I’m always impressed with the interest people have had and the willingness to try new ideas. Society continues to evolve and adapt to change,” he said.

Applicants for the grant can submit an expression of interest by 24 August. Details and forms are on the GALFA website 

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Tags: Angela Littleford, Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia, helping-hand, lgbti, Sidney Myer Fund,

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