Living Longer, Living Better – the Australian Government framework
The Australian Government “Living Longer, Living Better” reform package was announced in April 2012. The Government’s announcements included a number of LGBTI specific measures which the Alliance and its Members had been seeking for some years.
First, the Government announced that it will provide $24.4 million to assist older Australians with diverse needs, their families and carers to access information and aged care services that are sensitive to their backgrounds. These funds are covering people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless; people who are care leavers; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Second, the Government announced that it will provide $2.5 million to support older people from the LGBTI communities by delivering specific sensitivity training for people who work in aged care. The Alliance has been awarded a contract for most of that work, building on the work undertaken by ACON and Aged and Community Services Australia in 2010-2011.
Third, it was announced that The Aged Care Principles Act would be amended to include people in the LGBTI community as a special needs group, to further enable access to appropriate care suitable to their needs. The changes have now been made to the main Act. It is pleasing to see that this took place with multi-partisan support.
Ageing Project Links
National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy
The National Strategy was launched in November 2012 with the process of implementation commencing almost immediately. The Strategy was developed by a Steering Committee comprised of the Commonwealth Department, the aged care sector and community representatives nominated by the Alliance. The Alliance was supported to conduct 16 community consultations on the Strategy, covering each capital city and a number of regional areas. Over 350 individuals participated in those discussions.
The Strategy is admirably brief, being underpinned by a set of principles and goals. Both will provide guidance in the coming years.
The principles are inclusion, empowerment, access and equity, quality and capacity building. They are summarised as follows:
- Inclusion – the rights and needs of older LGBTI people, their families and carers are included in the development of Australian Government aged care policies and programs.
- Empowerment – older LGBTI people, their families and carers are supported with the knowledge and confidence to maximise their use of the aged care system.
- Access and equity – all areas of aged care understand the importance of, and deliver, LGBTI-inclusive services.
- Quality – care and support services provide quality services that meet the needs of older LGBTI people, their families and carers and are assessed accordingly.
- Capacity building – LGBTI individuals and communities have the capacity to both articulate their aged care needs and be involved in the development of services and the workforce to meet these needs.
The Strategy has six specific goals, each with detailed actions. Many of these actions will be discussed in greater detail today and tomorrow. They are:
- Goal 1 – LGBTI people will experience equitable access to appropriate ageing and aged care services
- Goal 2 – The aged care and LGBTI sectors will be supported and resourced to proactively address the needs of older LGBTI people
- Goal 3 – Ageing and aged care services will be supported to deliver LGBTI-inclusive services
- Goal 4 – LGBTI-inclusive aging and aged care services will be delivered by a skilled and competent paid and volunteer workforce
- Goal 5 – LGBTI communities, including older LGBTI people, will be actively engaged in the planning, delivery and evaluation of ageing and aged care policies, programs and services
- Goal 6 – LGBTI people, their families and carers will be a priority for ageing and aged care research
Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013
In 2013 the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013 (Cth) was implemented. From 28 June 2013 it is unlawful to discriminate against a person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status under federal law. All aged care providers are required to comply with this legislation. Religious organisations that provide Commonwealth-funded aged care services are not exempt.