GRAI (GLBTI Rights in Ageing Inc) was formed in 2005 after a group of friends from the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex) community, decided that after years of lobbying for their human rights, they didn’t want to ‘go back into the closet’ if they accessed aged care services, which they feared were homophobic.
GRAI spokesperson, June Lowe, said: “We know that that organisations must ‘come out first’, putting out overt signals of welcome, as well as training their staff to understand that simply ‘treating everyone the same’ continues to brush under the carpet important issues of diverse sexuality and gender.
“Without these steps, LGBTI clients will continue to hide their identity and relationships, fearing poorer service.
“The LGBTI community has suffered greatly from past discriminatory laws and social attitudes, which continues to impact into the present day.
“LGBTI elders routinely hide their identities for fear of discriminatory treatment, and the mainstream community remain ignorant of the cumulative legacies of this self-concealment.”
Over the 16 years since its formation in Perth, GRAI has worked in advocacy for law reform, training in the aged care sector, and community building to further the rights and well-being of LGBTI elders.
One of their early activities was to conduct a survey in collaboration with Curtin University of residential care providers, which showed how little the aged care sector knew, or cared to know, about LGBTI culture and people.
Of the survey respondents, a staggering 86 per cent said they believed ‘we don’t have any of those people here’. This became the title of this survey report.
Since this time GRAI has worked with government agencies on law reform issues, particularly lobbying for amendments to the Aged Care Act (2010) which gave LGBTI elders ‘special needs status’ in aged care. This meant that the sector could no longer continue its mainstream approach.
GRAI is the WA specialist provider of LGBTI inclusivity training, offering workshops to aged-care and health-care sectors on how to make their organisations culturally safe and welcoming for LGBTI people.
GRAI is working in the community on a variety of projects and activities. Coming up soon are two significant events – firstly Rainbow Roof, a seminar on alternative housing options for the LGBTI community on 11 May and secondly, Q-Connect a nine-week ageing and well-being program for LGBTI people over 60.
The housing seminar will take a community-led approach, exploring a wide range of options and ways LGBTI people can work together to achieve the type of ageing environments we want. See more information and book through: rainbowroof.eventbrite.com.au
Q-Connect’ is a nine-week wellness program. It is peer-designed and peer-led to achieve optimal relevance and interest. Meeting on Friday mornings, each week will focus on a different domain of wellness – intellectual, social, environmental, emotional, physical, spiritual and vocational. The Q-Connect program starts with an introductory session on 21 May and is a collaboration between GRAI and Connect Vic Park. More information and bookings through: tinyurl.com/LGBTIconnect
Transport is available if needed for both Rainbow Roof and Q-Connect.
For further information on GRAI’s activities, contact June Lowe on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0435 517 753.