Bisexual people are being asked to share their experiences with the aged care system as part of the Australian government’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
The National LGBTI Health Alliance has so far made three submissions to the Royal Commission, and to ensure all members of the community are represented, is now particularly seeking input from bisexual people.
The organisation has invited anyone who accesses the Australian aged care system as a bisexual person to share their experiences and views, as well as their friends, families, carers, and aged care workers.
“Personal stories are really powerful and an important way of informing the Royal Commission about what is happening for LGBTI elders and older people in aged care,” said an Alliance representative.
The Royal Commission, established in 2018, is examining the state of aged care services in Australia, how they meet the needs of older people, and what is needed to ensure safe and high-quality care.
The National LGBTI Health Alliance said that people of diverse genders and sexualities have specific needs that cannot be addressed by simply treating everyone the same way.
Having lived through eras of extreme prejudice, criminalisation, and other traumas, older LGBTIQ people may still face discrimination in accessing employment, housing, social welfare, and basic health services.
Bisexual Health Awareness Month in March draws attention to the specific challenges facing bisexual people, including a higher risk of mental health issues, social stigma, and pathologising of their sexuality.
“The celebration of diversity must replace the rhetoric of ‘equal treatment’, which denies the reality of unequal access experienced by many in our ageing community,” the National LGBTI Health Alliance said in a statement.
“The needs of older LGBTI people are left unmet.
“Tolerance is not best practice.”
The organisation has so far made recommendations including mandatory LGBTIQ training for aged care providers, the development of policies and processes to ensure inclusion, and robust complaints frameworks.
Ahead of its next submission to the Royal Commission, the Alliance is seeking input from older people around the country, also prioritising groups including people with disabilities, First Nations people, and those living in regional areas.
An online survey is available specifically for older bisexual people, and another for others in the LGBTIQ community.
Submissions are open until the end of April.