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Older LGBTI Australians at risk after govt cuts funds to support service

Older LGBTI Australians at risk after govt cuts funds to support service

A woman attends an LGBTI pride event in Australia (Photo: Switchboard/Facebook)

Older LGBTI Australians in the state of Victoria could be left isolated after the federal government withdrew two-thirds of funding for a local support service.

Switchboard Victoria is the only peer-based service supporting older LGTBI Australians with regular visits.

But, last month, federal authorities relocated funding for volunteers visiting people in residential or community care.

Switchboard Victoria’s CEO, Joe Ball, told Gay Star News they had lost funding for 38 positions. They described the federal government cut as ‘a real kick in the gut’.

‘I believe there is nowhere to transition people to’ they said.

‘Important part of their life’

Ball is now raising US$200,000 through fundraising and other grants to maintain the service.

‘We have committed to continuing service to all people who are currently supported’ they told Gay Star News.

The chief executive said their clients used the service because they trusted Switchboard’s 28 years of experience.

‘We match LGBTI older people with someone who has a lived experience like their own in order to create connection and relieve social isolation’ they explained.

For example, Ball said, a young trans woman would visit an older transwoman.

‘Mainstream services can’t replace this knowledge and expertise just with diversity training’ Ball explained.

‘This is not over’, Ball said. They said Switchboard Victoria was still accepting into the program.

Concerns about ageing

Last year, support organization AARP in the US ran a survey of 85,000 LGBT Americans over the age of 45. It asked them about their concerns about ageing. The top three were as follows:

  • 76% expressed concern about having adequate family and social supports as they age.
  • 73% could not LGBT-specific senior services. However, most were interested in accessing them.
  • 60% are concerned about long-term care, with many expressing concern about potential neglect, abuse or harassment.

Switchboard Victoria is one of Australia’s oldest LGBTI non-for-profits. It provides an LGBTI counseling service from 3:00pm to 12:00am seven days a week on 1800 184 527.

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