Issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity have proven to be too taboo for this upcoming federal election, with the LGBTI population absent from most of the aged care conversation and a lack of real political action, from both Labor and the Coalition.

The National LGBT Health Alliance has therefore called for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) issues to be placed under the political spotlight and for Labour and the Coalition to commit to improving the LGBTI population’s health and wellbeing.

Executive Director of the National LGBT Health Alliance, Gabi Rosenstreich, said that the Coalition had said no to developing a national plan that addressed LGBTI health issues and to funding a national non-government peak body for the LGBTI community. She said that Labor had not responded directly to the Aliance’s policy aims, although they were supported by the Greens and Democrats.

“Sexual orientation and gender identity are taboo topics and the LGBTI population have been invisible in aged care programs and policies to-date,”  Ms Rosenstreich said.

“It’s a perpetuation of invisibility. One our four member associations did research that showed that many aged care providers are oblivious to the fact that many of their residents would be LGBTI.

“The [facilities] weren’t opposed to taking these issues into account but they were oblivious to the fact that LBTI residents were living there and that their needs weren’t being met.

“It’s similar in the policy arena. There is a lack of awareness and LBTI issues are not on the radar.”

Labor’s policy response to the Alliance’s call for action has included a recently funded pilot of LGBTI sensitivity training for aged care workers (in NSW only). The party has also recognised the need to work with LGBTI communities in order to develop preventative health strategies and other health policies and programs that address the needs of LGBTI Australians.

Meanwhile, the Coalition has only recognised that amendments to Commonwealth legislation may be necessary in respect of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Greens, on the other hand, have committed to working in partnership with the LGBTI community to develop a fully integrated and holistic health plan; to support recognising LGBTI seniors as a special needs group in aged care policy; and to promote more research and better data on the needs of LGBTI seniors.

The Democrats have also promised to recognise LGBTI people as priority population group in preventative health; to resource LGBTI community organisations to deliver health promotion; to fund a national LGBTI aged care policy position and to provide more research into the needs of LGBTI seniors.

“There needs to be political leadership in the sector,” Ms Rosenstreich said.

“The government needs to notice that LGBTI people are part of the Australian community and that our needs have to be met, just like everyone else’s.”

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