Human rights: LGBTI aged care

Calls have been made to ensure a “human rights approach” when implementing changes following the federal government’s recent announcement of recognising Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) older people in aged care.

The Human Rights Commission last week released a position paper, Respect and choice: A human rights approach for ageing and health, which asserts respect and choice is integral when it comes to aged care.

Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, said changes to the Aged Care Act to include LGBTI people as a special needs group would result in an improvement to the current provision of care.

“Put simply, we are talking about ensuring older people have choices in care, are provided with information about what is happening to them and have their privacy protected,” Commissioner Ryan said.

“Whether care is being provided at home or in residential facilities, providers need training that creates respect for the religious choices, sexual orientation and cultural backgrounds of the older people in their care.”

Separate figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Kinsey Institute show the number of older LGBTI Australians – who account for up to 8% of older adults aged 65 years and over – is expected to rise, in line with national trends, to about 500,000 people by the year 2051.

The Human Rights Commission’s paper anticipates there will be a large increase in the numbers of older LGBTI people in coming decades.

“Sexual orientation, sex and/or gender identity have important implications for the provision of aged care services as many LGBTI people have experienced unlawful discrimination over the course of their lives,” the paper reads.

“It is thus imperative to ensure that this discrimination does not continue into the provision of aged care services.”