Research & Reports

This research report is based on interviews with older lesbian, gay and trans Australians. Funded by beyondblue the findings outline the impact of history, both personal and sociohistorical on older same sex attracted and gender diverse people in Australia. Included are recommendations for policy makers and service providers as well as including full narratives from several of the participants. The full report and the executive summary are available for download below. Hard copies of the executive summary or full report, can be requested from Val's Cafe, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

This paper presents data from a small study exploring the impacts of homophobia on the lives of older lesbian and gay Australians. Eleven in-depth interviews were conducted with older lesbians (6) and gay men (5) ranging in age from 65 to 79 years. The study found that participants’ sense of self was shaped by the dominant medical, legal and religious institutions of their youth that defined them as sick, immoral or criminal. Participants described enforced “cure” therapies, being imprisoned, having employment terminated and being disowned and disinherited by family. In this context, intimate relationships and social networks provided refuge where trust was rebuilt and sexuality affirmed. Many created safe spaces for themselves. This equilibrium was threatened with increasing age, disability and the reliance on health and social services. Participants feared a return to institutional control and a need to “straighten up” or hide their sexuality. In response, partners stepped into the role of caregiver, at times beyond their capacity and at a cost to their relationship. The study describes the importance of understanding social connections in the lives of older lesbians and gay men. It highlights the need for inclusive services to ensure that social networks are supported and that health and well-being are promoted.

Download the PDF or access the article here online.

 

 

 

 

This UK research report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is an exceptional report from an exstensive project. Unlike many reports on ageing, this one includes sexuality when diversity is discussed. It moves away from the 'successful ageing' framework and instead focusses on giving older people a voice and rights.

Click here to go to the project site.

'What can help older people with high support needs to improve their quality of life? This research rounds-up JRF’s A Better Life programme of work and presents a vision of what life can, and should, be like for all of us as we get older. The following challenges emerged from this work and we hope they will form the bedrock on which joint solutions can be developed:

  • We all need positive images and balanced narratives to challenge ageist assumptions. Old age is not about ‘them’, it is about all of us.
  • We all need to make the effort to see and hear the individual behind the label or diagnosis, taking into account the increasing diversity of older people as a demographic group.
  • We must ensure that all support is founded in, and reflects, meaningful and rewarding relationships. Connecting with others is a fundamental human need, whatever our age or support needs.
  • We need to use the many assets, strengths and resources of older people with high support needs through recognising and creating opportunities for them to both give and receive support.
  • We must all be treated as citizens: equal stakeholders with both rights and responsibilities, not only as passive recipients of care. We must also have clarity on what we can reasonably expect from publicly-funded services and what we will need to take responsibility for ourselves.
  • The individual and collective voices of older people with high support needs should be heard and given power. We must use a much wider range of approaches to enable this.
  • We need to be open to radical and innovative approaches; but we also need to consider how, often simple, changes can improve lives within existing models.
  • These challenges are not specific to a particular sector, service or profession: a key message is that these apply in care homes, health services, voluntary sector organisations and older peoples’ lives.'

There is a growing body of evidence, both international and Australian, to suggest that non-heterosexual people experience anxiety and depression at higher rates than their heterosexual peers and are at greater risk of suicide and self-harm. Yet, there has been little recognition of the implications of this for policy and practice. Contested debates on the influence of genes on sexual orientation aside, non-heterosexual people are not physiologically different from their heterosexual peers to all intents and purposes. However, they are likely to have different life experiences that contribute to at least two areas of particular need in relation to mental health and depression: managing the effects of homophobia and its consequences

on a daily basis through the life course; and gaining access to mental health services that are able to respond to their needs in socially and culturally competent ways. The invisibility of these issues prompted the partnership between beyondblue and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University to undertake a systematic and targeted international literature review of the evidence base on depression and related issues among non-heterosexual people, published between the years 2000 and 2008. In addition, data from existing Australian studies undertaken by ARCSHS was analysed specifically to contribute to this paper. Difficulties were encountered in reviewing and exploring similarities and differences between empirical studies of non-heterosexual groups because of complex ways of measuring sexual orientation. Similar difficulties were encountered in an analysis of the varying ways of defining depression, its diverse forms and the different tools used to measure it. These are fully discussed in the primary report and decisions about terminology for this document have been made.

This position statement from beyondblue asserts that it is clear from research evidence and individual stories of depression and anxiety,that discrimination, exclusion and prejudice are contributing factors to the higher rates of depression, anxiety and self harm which are experienced within gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans1 and intersex (GLBTI) populations compared with the broader population. beyondblue is committed to raising awareness about these issues within the community and helping to reduce discrimination. 

 

Most people in Australia are living longer. Australia's population is ageing, with all of the health consequences that this produces. As well, many of those now beginning to face problems of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, represent the first generation of people living openly, or semi-openly, without shame or undue fear because of their minority status. Law reforms are being proposed and adopted to remove many of the residual legal disadvantages faced by sexual minorities. However, discriminatory attitudes and some discriminatory laws still remain. Alzheimer's Australia is to be congratulated for examining the particular impact of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease on GLBTI minorities.

It may be hoped that, in the future, many of the problems described in this paper will be removed as prejudicial social attitudes and discriminatory laws give way to more just, equal and accepting approaches to members of the GLBTI minorities. In the meantime, our society has a number of problems on its hands. Some of these arise because of injustice in the law. Some derive from the predominant role that religious organisations play in many retirement and health facilities. Yet others exist because of residual fears in the minds of GLBTI people, left over from the times in which they grew up. This paper seeks to address all of these concerns and to do so in a short, readable account of where the problems lie; what can be done about them; and who can be contacted to help those in special need. 

This research has its beginnings in an act of transgender activism, arising as it did out of dissatisfaction with the capacity

of the 2005 Private Lives project (Pitts, Smith, Mitchell, & Patel, 2006, p. 65) to capture the complexity of transgender lives.

A central pivot in the concerns of the transgender communities about health services is that of recognition. Practices of

medicine are implicated in many of the attempts by transgender people to achieve positive health and self- and socialrecognition

for their preferred gender. Additionally, recognition on formal documentary records is, in many cases, dependent

upon certified medical intervention.

Research indicates older GLBTI people are likely to be disadvantaged in the aged care sector due to their sexuality. Recent research carried out by GRAI in conjunction with Curtin University and supported by a Lotterywest Social Research Grant, investigated the preparedness of the retirement and residential aged care sector in Western Australia in response to this minority group. Findings from the research are presented in the report: We don’t have any of these people here: Retirement Accommodation and Aged Care Issues for Non-Heterosexual Populations. Visit GRAI here

This research uses stories and analysis to celebrate the important contributions made to the Victorian community by aged care workers. This report seeks to turn the tide on the frequent under valuing of workers in this sector. You can visit the project website here

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