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Victorian LGBTI older person’s service promised life-line

COTA Victoria was shocked to learn that Switchboard’s Out & About, an LGBTI Community Visitor service, lost most of its funding just before Christmas. The free service brings friendship and connection to older LGBTI people who are socially isolated. News of the Government cut was devastating for service users and volunteers involved in the program. Out & About is unique, as it provides a service that is culturally safe and delivered by LGBTI volunteers who fully understand the issues that older LGBTI people live with including, historical discrimination and abuse, ageing with HIV, family breakdown and Transgender rights and identities. Out & About is the only LGBTI specialist Community Visitors’ Scheme (CSV) in Victoria. The Federal cuts to LGBTI CSV funded positions were reallocated to mainstream providers without culturally-competent Rainbow Tick Accreditation and without those connections to the LGBTI community.

According to Kate, an older transgender woman, ‘Coming into residential aged care is a really big adjustment for anybody and it takes time. For myself, I feel very isolated, I’ve got really no-one I can talk to at the same level … One of the best things that’s happened in the last few years is being involved in Switchboard’s Out & About Program. Along with other LGBTI-specific seniors’ events, this has personally lifted my distress … but we still have a long way to go.’

Julie Collins, Federal Labor Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, has promised to reinstate funding for the program should they win the upcoming federal election. As a result of campaigning against the Government cut, the CEO of Switchboard, Joe Ball, has said they have recently had ‘hopeful communication’ with the Minister for Ageing, Ken Wyatt’s office. In the meantime, the loss of funding since December has had a huge impact.

You can send a letter urging the Minister for Ageing, Ken Wyatt, to reinstate funding for this important service for the coming three years by emailing: Minister.Wyatt@health.gov.au and cc’ing outreach@switchboard.org.au

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