Timeline of LGBTI Ageing & Aged Care in Australia

This page provides a very brief timeline of LGBTI ageing & aged care in Australia. We acknowledge those who have worked for decades towards the gains that we are beginning to see today. If you feel that there is an important event missing from this list, please feel welcome to contact samantha.edmonds@lgbtihealth.org.au 

✪ August 2011: Productivity Commission Inquiry into Aged Care, Caring for Older Australians

LGBTI elders specifically recognised within the discussion on diversity

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (p.54)

  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) people can also want services tailored to their specific needs. Like others who may experience discrimination in mainstream services, or who have particular health, cultural or social needs, aged care services for GLBTI people need to be flexible and appropriate 

Recommendation 11.1

  • The Australian Government should ensure the accreditation standards for residential and community care are sufficient and robust enough to deliver services which cater to the needs and rights of people from diverse backgrounds including culturally and linguistically diverse, Indigenous and sexually diverse communities.

Recommendation 11.2

The Australian Seniors Gateway Agency should cater for diversity by:

  • ensuring all older people have access to appropriate information and assessment services
  • facilitating access for people with language and cultural needs through the development of specific hubs for older people from diverse backgrounds that have limited English skills and require access to bi-lingual staff
  • ensuring that diagnostic tools are culturally appropriate for the assessment of care needs.

Recommendation 11.3

The Australian Aged Care Commission, in transparently recommending the scheduled set of prices for care services, should take into account costs associated with catering for diversity, including:

  • providing ongoing and comprehensive language services for clients from non-English speaking backgrounds
  • ensuring staff undertake appropriate professional development activities to increase their capacity to deliver care with dignity and respect to all older people.

✪ August 2011: At a meeting between the Alliance and the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing in August 2011

Minister Butler raised the idea of holding a discussion with LGBTI communities regarding aged care related issues and the Productivity Commission report.

✪ October 2011: First National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Roundtable

Two fundamental issues underpinned the recommendations of the Roundtable:
  • First, the general invisibility of LGBTI elders within mainstream society and within LGBTI communities, including the widespread ignorance of their specific needs, histories and life experiences. LGBTI elders are the experts on their own lives, experiences and needs
  • Second, LGBTI elders have experienced prejudice and discrimination (which may include bullying, harassment, verbal, physical, psychological and/or sexual abuse) over the life course, from government, agencies, faith-based organisations, health providers, businesses, LGBTI communities, families, friends, and individuals. This includes a fear of prejudice and discrimination, based on past both their experience and the experience of others. These experiences cause LGBTI elders to: remain in or return to the closet; be reluctant to reveal their sexual orientation, their gender identity, history or experience, or their intersex status to government agencies and service providers; and be reluctant to make complaints when they experience prejudice or discrimination.

Key outcome from the Roundtable was the development of a National LGBTI Aged Care Strategic Plan, by the Australian Government working in partnership with the LGBTI community sector.

A strategic plan is necessary to establish the priority issues for LGBTI aged care in Australia, and to establish priority areas, targets, objectives and outcomes in relation to addressing LGBTI issues in aged care. It would also serve to identify the resources necessary, and to guide the allocation of those resources.  The Productivity Commission endorsed such a plan as warranted.  Significant areas  of public health policy, including Indigenous aged care, mental health, HIV/AIDS, women’s and men’s health, as well as carer concerns, and dementia issues, have in the past warranted and achieved direction through the development of such a national strategic plan.

Many other key recommendations from this day became embedded within the Strategy:

  • Increasing visibility and empowerment of LGBTI elders within the LGBTI communities and broader community  – research and data collection
  • Representation on significant bodies addressing ageing and aged care
  • Inclusion within the Aged Care Standards
  • Workforce education and training
  • Inclusion within Legislation, specifically the Aged Care Act
  • Extension of Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination legislation to cover sex and/or gender, and sexuality
  • Resourcing the LGBTI sector

✪ Mid-2012: Aged Care ACT 1997 amended to include LGBTI peoples as a special needs group

Section 11‑3 Meaning of people with special needs

For the purposes of this Act, the following people are people with special needs:

  • a) people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities;
  • b) people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds;
  • c) people who live in rural or remote areas;
  • d)  people who are financially or socially disadvantaged;
  • e)  veterans;
  • f)  people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless;
  • g)  care‑leavers;
  • ga)  parents separated from their children by forced adoption or removal;
  • h)  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people;
  • i)  people of a kind (if any) specified in the Allocation Principles.

✪ April 2012: Living Longer, Living Better

On 20 April 2012, the Prime Minister and Minister Butler unveiled a comprehensive package of reforms to build a better, fairer, more sustainable and more nationally consistent aged care system. The Government’s announcements included a number of LGBTI specific measures which the Alliance and its Members had been seeking for some years:

  • 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.
  • 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 was awarded a contract for most of that work, building on the work undertaken by ACON and Aged and Community Services Australia in 2010-2011. 

✪ September – October 2012: National Consultations on draft LGBTI Ageing & Aged Care Strategy

The National LGBTI Health Alliance was commissioned by the Department of Health and Ageing to host broad ranging consultations based on DoHA’s draft LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy. 15 consultations were held nationally.

These consultations aimed to gather detailed feedback on the draft Strategy from stakeholders and to highlight any emerging issues and themes for the Alliance to provide to DoHA.

The Strategy was generally well received and overall participants supported the thrust of the proposed Principles, Goals and Actions. As such, the areas suggested for improvement resulted in relatively small revisions to the Strategy rather than major overhauls to the document. There was also widespread appreciation that the Department was being proactive and taking action on a long neglected area.

There were several main themes that recurred throughout the consultations where participants felt more emphasis or clarity was needed in the Strategy, or where certain issues had been overlooked. For example the LGBTI community is not a homogenous group and that there are many differences between and within each group.

Read the report

✪ November 2012: The National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy is launched

✪ 2013: Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013 (Cth) was implemented. 

All aged care providers are required to comply with this legislation, including faith based providers.

✪ 2013: Alliance Ageing and Aged Care Projects Funded

The Alliance was funded from 2013 – 2017 to deliver the following projects:

LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy

This project aims to educate and inform service providers, policy makers, LGBTI people and communities and the general community about changes to inclusive practice in the Australian aged care sector. We also monitor the roll out of the National LGBTI Ageing & Aged Care Strategy.

LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Awareness Training

This project is delivering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) aged care awareness training to a broad range of staff working in ageing and aged care, students studying aged care and aged care assessment teams nationally.

✪ August 2014: 2nd National LGBTI Ageing & Aged Care Roundtable

✪ March 2017: Appointed to Aged Care Sector Committee and Chair of the Diversity sub Group

✪ July 2017:

Alliance re-funded to continue its essential work providing national coordination and support activities promoting the well-being of LGBTI elders and the ongoing delivery of the LGBTI awareness training to the aged care sector.