Leading elder abuse prevention organisation calls for more recognition of the unqiue challenges faced by the LGBTQIA+ community as it ages so we can combat elder abuse.
With the Royal Commission into Aged Care soon to release its findings, national elder abuse advocate Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA) and LGBTIQ+ Health Australia are calling for more recognition for the unique issues and challenges facing the LGBTQIA65+ community as they age.
EAAA notes that although hard statistics on the incidence of elder abuse for the LGBTQIA65+ population are hard to come by, often because the community is not adequately considered in surveys or research, anecodotal evidence suggests they are particularly vulnerable.
“We estimate at least one in ten older people experience elder abuse. Approximately 10% of those will be LGBTQIA+,” says EAAA Co-Chair Diedre Timms.
“Those in the LGBTQIA+ population can face a range of issues as they get older, including difficulties in arranging appropriate age care services, which are often faith based, dealing with fragmented family circumstances, issues regarding legal and monetary rights of defacto partners, and visiting entitlements within hospital and palliative care environments,” says EAAA Co-Chair Diedre Timms.
“If we are to get a true understanding of the situation, and work to resolve the issues around elder abuse as we do with other community groups, we need to ensure there is an opportunity to identify specific LGBTQIA+ issues. Russell Westacott, Manager, Program Delivery and Capacity Building at LGBTIQ+ Health Australia agrees more needs to be done to understand the issues faced by the rainbow community.
“You need to remember that the LGBTQIA65+ group were coming into their identity at a time when many states and territories within Australia criminalised any relationship outside of heterosexual relationships, so they are more likely to have experienced first hand from discrimination, family rejection and social isolation from a young age and as they age,” he says.
“Data and insights however are frustatingly scarce, and the current National Prevalence Study is a great example of where limited questions were asked of this community, missing an opportunity to find out more. We need to do better.” The areas and issues, effecting some in the community, which need to be considered include:
• LGBTQIA65+ are more likely to be single and living alone.
• Many become caregivers for friends within their community.
• LGBTQIA65+ often report facing discrimation and being rejected by aged care or assisted living facilities (faith based and charitable organisations represent 40% of the residential aged care facilities within Australia).
• LGBTQIA65+ are more likely to experience health issues such as HIV, mental health issues and substance abuse.
• They are less likely to have children and more likely to have fractured family structures.
To empower the community to recognise, prevent and respond to elder abuse within the LGBTQIA65+ community, EAAA is partnering with LGBTIQ+ Health Australia as part of the Mardi Gras 2021 Festival to deliver a new Compass webinar exploring the particular characteristics and vulnerabilities of older LGBTQIA+ people and talk about real life examples of elder abuse.
The Compass webinar will be moderated by Julie McCrossin, with a diverse panel from the Rainbow community.
Julie is an Australian radio broadcaster, journalist, political commentator, comedian and activist for the LGBTQIA+ community. At age 66, she is cognisant of the issues facing her community. “There is no doubt that loneliness and isolation are more common among older people, which makes them more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, especially financial,” says Julie.
“The big challenge for LGBTQIA+ people is that many community centres, activities and support services for the elderly are run by faith-based organisations. “Many Rainbow people fear that they are not welcome in these services or they will be discriminated against. At one local community consultation for rainbow people that I attended, the most common request was for the opportunity to share a weekly communal meal in a local venue together.
“People just wanted a safe place, where they knew they were welcome, to overcome loneliness. We need to fly the Rainbow flag at services for the elderly and show people they are welcome."
“However, there are many simple, practical things we can do to keep ourselves happy, healthy and safe from abuse and neglect when we’re over 65, and we’re looking forward to unpacking those and giving a voice to experiences of our Rainbow community at the upcoming Compass webinar.”
LGBTQIA65+ Equality At Every Age 25 Feb, 2021, 12.30pm (EST)
Free to register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_YHIwiLWMS9W2NnSHGBEKJw
If you need help or suspect Elder Abuse, please contact:
The National Elder Abuse Helpline: 1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374)
Compass - https://compass.info/
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