Val's Café was established in 2009, as a project seeking to improve the health and wellbeing of older lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people. Central to this aim is creating safe and inclusive services that recognise and value older LGBTI people. This is achieved by working directly with service providers to foster an understanding of the unique histories and experiences of older LGBTI people.
Val's Cafe is part of GLHV at La Trobe University's, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS).
The program's name, Val's Café is inspired by the pioneering work of Val Eastwood who ran Val's Coffee Lounge, a meeting place for the ’camp’ community in early 1950s Melbourne. Val describes how:
People used to get dressed up just to come to the coffee lounge. They could be themselves and feel as if they were at home.
Val’s Café works with service providers in a number of ways to create inclusive services for older LGBTI people. These include: education, networking, resource provision and development, capacity building, advocacy, policy and strategy and workforce support and development. Currently Val's Cafe has over 600 members including staff and organisations across the human service and aged care sectors, and community members as well.