First LGBTI village and RACF

Plans for Australia’s first ever LGBTI residential community lifestyle living village with ageing-in-place have been given the green light. Once built, Australia’s first ever LGBTI residential aged care facility is likely to follow.

Above: Artist impression of the front entrance of Linton Estate

By Yasmin Noone

The owner of what will very soon be Australia’s first ever independent living village for older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) adults has today announced intentions to follow the project with a LGBTI residential aged care facility in the near future.

The groundbreaking and already award-winning village for older LGBTI people, Linton Estate, near the rural location of in Victoria, will soon be built after more than 14 years of planning.

Now approved and only months out from the first phase of construction, Linton Estate will not be a retirement village nor a typical residential aged facility, but instead a ‘residential community lifestyle living village with ageing-in-place’.

The project will feature a mix of 120 two and three-bedroom, single storey independent living units (sized between 13 to 22 square metres each) and a massive suite of other inclusions to promote social inclusion. Residents will have access to the on-site nurse via the use of a nurse call system and receive care in their own home via community care packages, if need be. 

Managing director of Linton Estate and the key individual behind the project, Peter Dickson, said that once the estate is finished, he will look for land “further into town” to build a LGBTI aged care facility.

“We are finalising all the big things,” Mr Dickson said.

“At the moment we are deciding between two building companies for the Linton Estate units – Mega Homes and Orbit Homes. And we are looking at about eight different builders to construct the commercial building.”

“…I hope the independent living units will all be built in the next two to three years. And within that time, I hope to source a location for an LGBTI aged care facility.”

Promoting a philosophy of mutual respect, the estate will be a safe, secure and non-judgmental environment for residents and staff of all genders and sexuality types.

“A lot of people working in aged care facilities are from overseas who might have certain cultural and religious beliefs which means they don’t believe in homosexuality.

“This is where Linton has to be able to look after its own – staff will be respectful to the community whether they are gay or straight.

“Here, you will not being judged if you are lesbian, or even a straight woman or male.

“…Residents can have their own pictures on their wall and they won’t be looked at as offensive. People are able to chose their own colour schemes  and won’t have restrictions on [how they decorate the interior of the units].

“We will check the facades out the front of the units to make sure they are [all okay] but that is the only thing we will control.

“It’s all about living in a community and about caring for each other.”

Mr Dickson said the estate will have no age restriction, encouraging couples of all ages to feel comfortable and be accepted. 

“I could say a lot of gay people have younger partners, especially males. They could be 20 years old with a partner of 60.

“In a lot of RVs, unless the charter allows it,  when that older person dies, the younger person has to move out. But where’s the humanity? So Linton sees [and accepts] that in gay communities, there is a situation where a lot of people have younger partners.”

The community centre toilets will also be unisex cubicles with individual urinals behind select cubicle doors.

“I had to look outside the square and think, ‘how would a straight or gay woman cope with an intersex person changing next door?”

Above: Artist impression of the open air theatre area and surrounds

The estate’s approved plans also include landscaped front and back gardens; a commercial business building; community centre; adult learning centre; children’s play area; gym; tanning salon, beautician, hairdresser and masseuse quarters; consulting rooms; shed/workshop; open air theatre; tennis court; bowling green; club house; croquet green; caravan and boat storage; community barbeques; shop/bar/café; and more.

Environmentally sustainable, the village is set to also have a grey water recycling system, solar street lighting, storm water harvesting, man-made lakes and trout fishing. 

The Linton Estate recently won the a Australasian Over 50’s Housing Awards 2010; Australasian Over 50’s Housing Award 2011; and Global Over’s 50’s Housing Healthcare 2011 award.

“These designs are really good. Even the big operators have acknowledged how good they are. These designs are nothing like what’s out there in the market. It’s something for the gay community to be proud of.”

So far, the village has 284 expressions of interest from older people all over the world.

Mr Dickson expects that 35 per cent of those will purchase. Once a bulk of units has been sold, construction will start.

“But, I don’t feel the units will stay on the market very long.”

The estate, named after Mr Dickson’s mother – Linton was her maiden name – will also be divided into independent unit blocks named after his four aunties.

Mr Dickson, a gay man, said he had thought about developing the village for 24 years and then, 14 years ago, set about doing it.

“What happens in the [LGBTI] community is that one partner normally dies without the other, as you don’t normally die together unfortunately. And, for a lot of people, they will then be isolated to the boundary of their house.

“A lot of people LGBTI people, the LGBTI community is their family as we don’t have family. And, even if we do, the kids might not talk to them because they are horrified that mum or dad is gay.

“But nobody should die alone. Nobody should be afraid.”

Above: Artist impression of the back of Linton Estate

A trend that should not exist?

The federal government announced that, as part of its Living Longer, Living Better reform package, LGBTI seniors will be considered a ‘special needs group’ under the Aged Care Act.

Care Connect, the first organisation to roll out community care packages specifically for the LGBTI community (in 2011)  welcomed the news of the federal goverment’s LGBTI aged care reform, the fact that the Linton Estate will soon be built, and that a LGBTI aged care facility will soon follow.  

“People want to be able to live in an environment where they feel comfortable with and much rather prefer to be in an environment with supporting faces rather than ones that judge,” said CEO of Care Connect, Paul Ostrowski.

He said a Queensland government survey of LGBTI aged care consumers, conducted in 2008, found that more than 50 per cent were extremely concerned about moving into residential aged care. They feared discrimination and being forced ‘back into the closet’.

“While there is no evidence of discrimination in residential aged care facilities, the history between the churches and the LGBTI community is complex at best so I understand their fear.

However, he said, “in an ideal world, any Australian should be able to chose to retire and spend their years anywhere they want, without fear, favour or judgement”.

“First of all there needs to be cultural change….which is happening and over the course of the next 30 or 40 years, there will be much less need for LGBTI specific services.

“But until such time that we go through that journey, we will see the need for LGBTI services…”

Tags: ageing-in-place, bisexual, care-connect, gay, glbit, glbt, homosexual, intersex, lesbian, lgbt, lgbti, linton-estate, living-longer-living-better, mega-homes, orbit-homes, peter-dickson, retirement,

8 thoughts on “First LGBTI village and RACF

  1. Congrats on this concept! Since seeing a presentation on US Seniors Living trends a few years back at a conference, I knew this would be a winner here too. People want to retire into safe communities surrounded by like-minded people, so whether it’s the GLBT market, Church-based communities or Hot Rod lovers (like the Castlemaine proposal a few years back), I fully support the freedom to choose and live in ‘like’ neighbourhoods, not bland ‘anything goes’ retirement villages.

  2. Great concept, great planning & it’ll sure to be a marvellous place to live.

    ** Would the writer of this piece please note that acronyms without giving the full term at first mention are a big no no. What the hell is RACF? WE shouldn’t have to be doing google searches to find information in order to make sense of your headline!

  3. Congratulations !! I am an almost 60yo T/G from Northern Vic, wondering where I shall spend retirement. This is a wonderful prospect for me in the future.

  4. This is really overdue but its wonderful to see that some-one has forged ahead with the idea!

  5. fOR YEARS i’VE BEEN READING ABOUT THESE LBTG RETIREMENT HOMES, BUT WHEN IS THIS DREAM GOING TO HAPPEN? WE COULD DIE WAITING.

    MARIE GORDON

  6. Fantastic news!
    I was actually looking to see if Linton had progressed since I last looked for it. Working in retirement living for some many years now, there is plenty of room for some innovative thinking and new concepts. Projects like this should be encouraged and acknowledged. Well done! I know you’re on a winner!

  7. I think this is a great step forward for older GLBTI people. I remember discussing this a number of years ago with friends, and thinking what a good thing it would be to have when we reached that age. I’m not quite at that age yet, (although not getting any younger), and I would hope that something like this facility would be avaiable for my partner and I as we look to downsize and take on a more leisurly lifelstyle. Congratulations in progressing this.

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