Reaching Out: Law and Older project

‘Reaching Out – Law and Older’ evolved from a historical perspective of LGBTI history and discrimination and experience working with older LGBTI around their barriers to service provision. The project sought to raise awareness of their rights, link older LGBTI with information, address real and perceived barriers to access, provide basic legal information and empower older LGBTI to act and seek appropriate support. TARS also wished to provide a resource template for other community legal centres and advocacy services to utilise. Funding was from a DSS Aged Care and Service Improvement Grant (ACHSIHAG) for June 2013 to June 2014.

A series of events were run in urban, rural and remote locations including the Hunter, Illawarra, Northern Rivers, Broken Hill, and Albury as well as inner and outer Sydney. We engaged community through a range of media strategies (print, radio and paid advertisement) and liaised with regional ACON partners. Sessions ranged from smaller key speaker, interactive sessions and larger community forums with LGBTI seniors, experienced TARS legal personnel and other service providers. The project was evaluated with pre and post- test and process evaluation, as well as, an independent evaluation.

Findings indicated that older LGBTI were often unaware of their rights, the importance of legal documentation and who can assist. They were also mistrustful of service providers, anticipated they might be treated differently and were concerned about the interpretation of their wishes ( in regard to property, aged care and finances). Transgender in particular had ongoing issues of discrimination relating to employment, housing and gender of burial/cremation.

It is important to address systemic challenges through policy and advocacy as well as education and promotion. Personal barriers of the attitudes and values of providers can be addressed through cultural competency training. LGBTI need to be informed and supported to explore their rights, become aware of the new protective legislation and know which providers may assist them. Opportunities exist for partnership work between LGBTI community, legal services and aged care providers to incorporate the learning and perspectives of both and, enrich the knowledge and skills of organisations and community.

As a result of the above issues TARS saw a need to develop some resources which were focus tested during the project and are now available from the TARS website and reception. They include a poster on discrimination, a general LGBTI inclusive brochure, a booklet on the top 10 legal issues for older LGBTI and a Powerpoint presentation.

LGBTI Rights Poster (Click to download the PDF):

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10 Ten Legal Issues for LGBTI People

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Diana Bernard
Coordinator Education & Promotion
The Aged care Rights Service