LGBTIQA+ Carers

LGBTIQA+ Carers

Carers Victoria recognise that all individuals and caring situations are unique and provide a range of services to support all carers.

LGBTIQA+ people come from a range of backgrounds, faiths, occupations, locations, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and family types. Under the rainbow umbrella there are many LGBTIQA+ communities and groups who identify as Queer/Questioning, Pansexual, Asexual, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Diverse, Intersex and other identities.

Carers Victoria seeks to provide support specific to individual carer needs and acknowledges that although people in LGBTIQA+ care relationships face many of the same joys and pressures as any other carer, the LGBTIQA+ community has unique needs. LGBTIQA+ people may experience specific challenges related to invisibility, discrimination and exclusion. A lack of recognition of a person's experience, sexuality, gender identity or care relationship can add stress to carers in already challenging circumstances.

Many LGBTIQA+ carers may be isolated from others in their communities by distance, social isolation, financial disadvantage, stigma and/or demands related to their role. At Carers Victoria, our aim is to provide inclusive and affirming services which value, celebrate and support LGBTIQA+ carers and carers of LGBTIQA+ people.

Our Commitment

Carers Victoria is committed to LGBTIQA+ inclusion. This commitment is reflected in the work we have done in both advocacy and organisational change. We are currently working towards the Rainbow Tick Accreditation and in 2019 employed a dedicated ‘Rainbow Tick Project Officer’ to meet the accreditation by the end of the year.

Below is a summary of the work we have done that reflects our commitment to provide inclusive services which value, celebrate and support LGBTIQA+ carers and carers of LGBTIQA+ people.

Support available specific to LGBTIQA+ carers needs:

  • LGBTIQA+ carer support group in collaboration with City of Melbourne and Queerspace
  • Training provided for LGBTIQA+ identifying carers in areas such as mental health, support for self-advocacy and facilitator training
  • Opportunities to make connections with other LGBTIQA+ carers through social events such as movie screenings
  • Counsellors that specialise in working with LGBTIQA+ identifying clients
  • Specific resources for LGBTIQA+ carers such as infographics and flyers

Organisational commitment

  • Organisational commitment to developing LGBTIQA+ inclusive and culturally safe services through the Rainbow Tick program, which has support from the highest level of management and is now incorporated into strategic imperatives
  • Information sheets for people working with LGBTIQA+ carers
  • Diversity Committee including a LGBTIQA+ sub group
  • A staff Pride Network, through which we strive to be an employer of choice for the LGBTIQA+ community

Carers Victoria: staff journey towards Rainbow Tick accreditation

In 2018 Carers Victoria committed to achieving Rainbow Tick accreditation to demonstrate our commitment to working with people and communities who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning Asexual and other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities (LGBTIQA+ communities).

At the start of 2019 a Rainbow Tick Working Group (working group) was formed. There was widespread enthusiasm to be part of the working group from across the organisation. This has ensured that the journey towards achieving Rainbow Tick accreditation has been a shared commitment. A fundamental part of this process has been the work of the Rainbow Tick Project Officer (project officer) who has chaired the working group. The project officer has broken down the requirements of accreditation so that each member of the group was able to have manageable tasks assigned based on their role in the organisation. For example, the Quality Coordinator, Human Resources Officer and Policy Advisor assisted in reviewing Carers Victoria’s internal policies to strengthen how we create a safe and supportive workplace for LGBTIQA+ staff.

The working group members have also been contact points for their teams as well as to organise days of significance for LGBTIQA+ communities at Carers Victoria.

  • On May 17 (or the nearest weekday if on a weekend) we mark IDAHOBIT: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. In 2019 we had an afternoon tea fundraiser to learn more about the support Switchboard provides to LGBTIQA+ communities.
  • This year we are having an event entitled ‘Advocacy at the Intersections’ to listen to and learn from people with disability who identify as LGBTIQA+.
  • Wear it Purple Day celebrates LGBTIQA+ communities, in particular young LGBTIQA+ people, on the last Friday in August each year. Our team working with young carers lead a celebratory afternoon tea.
  • Trans Day of Remembrance is held on November 20 each year to recognise people that have been killed due to transphobia. Carers Victoria held an event to increase our knowledge of trans communities we played an educational snakes and ladders featuring tips about how to be a trans ally and tested our knowledge of definitions with a treasure hunt.

All staff have been supported to develop and enhance their ability to be inclusive of people from LGBTIQA+ communities. Staff have been encouraged to move from a mindset of ‘treating everybody the same’ (equality) to seeking the same outcomes for everybody (equity). We have learned about the impacts of heteronormativity.

Heteronormativity is a viewpoint that expresses heterosexuality as a given instead of being one of many diverse possibilities and presents heterosexuality as the default sexuality. Throughout the Rainbow Tick process, we have sought to identify and address areas of heteronormative practice. This is about creating an organisation where all carers, staff and visitors can feel safe to express their true identity. A couple of examples are having clearer communication about our all gender bathroom and improving our client management system to allow our intake team to safely and accurately record the identity of carers who contact us.

In order to track staff opinions and understanding of working with LGBTIQA+ communities, surveys were undertaken in February 2019 and February 2020. The results have been encouraging:

  • The percentage of staff who have received training during the Rainbow Tick project has more than doubled. In February 2020 92% of staff had completed training. 
  • Survey response of high understanding of the needs of clients who are a part of the transgender community has increased fourfold  
  • Survey response of high understanding of the needs of clients who are a part of the intersex community has increased sixfold  
  • Survey response to having the right information to work effectively with LGBTIQA+ consumers has more than doubled  
  • Survey response to having the right skills to work effectively with LGBTIQA+ consumers has almost doubled

Many of the 2019 suggestions for working towards inclusive LGBTIQA+ service were implemented during the project. The 2020 responses will inform the plan of inclusive practice moving forward. 

The surveys focused on the areas of knowledge, comfort, confidence and quality service. A key element to improving knowledge of LGBTIQA+ communities was the work of the Rainbow Tick Project Officer.

“Having a dedicated worker gives me opportunity to discuss any concerns. A go to person is paramount together with agencies to contact.”

Training offered to staff throughout the process has been beneficial to staff. It is through this training that staff have been supported to ask questions in a safe environment without the fear of being judged.

  • 92% attended internal general LGBTIQ training 
  • 80% attended Intersex training with Tony Briffa 
  • 38% of staff attended Transgender Victoria Training 
  • 66% attended Active Bystander Training 

The active bystander training has provided staff with the tools to address behaviour from colleagues that may intentionally or unintentionally harm people from LGBTIQA+ communities as well as other diverse communities.

Carers Victoria will continue to work with staff to ensure that we create a workplace where everyone respects and values people from LGBTIQA+ communities.

Engagement in broader community work

  • Our broader community work includes sponsoring Melbourne Queer Film Festival films, supporting Pride March and Carnival as part of Midsumma Festival, celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and supporting the ‘yes’ vote during the marriage equality survey

Research

Carers Victoria regularly partners with external institutions to conduct research focusing on LGBTIQA+ carers to inform industry and aid in advocacy:

  • Carers of LGBTIQA+ people with mental illness (2017)
  • An Extra Degree of Difficulty: Older LGBTI carers (2015)

Research - LGBTIQA+ Inclusive Services

Carers Victoria recently conducted consultations with carers who identify as members of the LGBTIQA+ communities or care for someone who does. 

The major themes that arose from these consultations include resilience, experiences of discrimination and isolation. 

A number of suggestions for providing inclusive services for carers were also made. Read the summary here.

Advocacy

  • After campaigning to all parties on behalf of carers interests in the lead up to the 2017 Victorian election, the Andrews Government committed to $4 million for carer support groups, focused on carers in regional areas, and under-recognised groups such as young carers and LGBTIQA+ carers
  • Ongoing work with LGBTIQA+ organisations to represent carers needs, such as Val’s Cafe, Switchboard, Living Positive Victoria, Minus 18, National LGBTIQA+ Health Alliance. Our main collaborations have been:
  • Creating an eLearning module on young LGBTIQA+ carers for organisations to use
  • Creating a Carers Handbook with Living Positive Victoria with information and resources for older people living with HIV (PLHIV) and their care team (including carers, care workers, health professionals, and family and friends)
  • Present at conferences on LGBTIQA+ carers interests and needs
  • Representing LGBTIQA+ carers interests at government forums such as the National Ageing and Aged Care Roundtable which was convened to review the progress of the National LGBTIQA+ Ageing and Aged Care Strategy.
  • Participation in the National LGBTI Carers Network

Useful contacts

Switchboard Victoria - a partner of QLife
1800 184 527
www.switchboard.org.au

Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au

Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Victoria
www.glrl.org.au

Living Positive Victoria
(03) 9863 8733
www./livingpositivevictoria.org.au

Zoe Belle Gender Collective
www.zbgc.com.au

Transgender Victoria
www.transgendervictoria.com

Bisexual Alliance
www.bi-alliance.org

OII Australia - Intersex Australia
oii.org.au