Val’s Cafe to expand support for LGBTI Seniors

Rainbow Flag 630The Victorian Government has announced $402,000 funding over three years for Val’s Café, a program promoting the health, well-being and social inclusion of older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

“LGBTI seniors shouldn’t have to get back in the closet as they grow older,” said Minister for Equality, Martin Foley. “The Andrews Labor Government is proud to support the Val’s Café Project. It’s unique in Australia and is breaking new ground every day with programs that significantly improve the lives of older LGBTI people.”

The Val’s Café project is named in honour of a Melbourne coffee lounge that became a gay-friendly meeting place in early 1950s Melbourne. In a time where LGBTI people were persecuted, the lounge was a place where, in the words of proprietor Val Eastwood, people “could be themselves and feel as if they were at home.”

Val’s Café is part of the Sexual Health and Ageing Program at La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. The project was established in 2009 to work with aged-care facilities and help providers understand the histories and experiences of their older LGBTI clients.

Since 2009, the project has conducted ground-breaking research and provided the latest information on LGBTI health and well-being to the aged care sector through publications, professional development training, awareness events, monthly newsletters, partnerships with key peak bodies, and direct support to LGBTI seniors.

The project now has 450 members and 5,000 monthly online visitors to its website. It has provided support to more than 4,000 staff across the aged-care sector, with the goal of ensuring that LGBTI Victorians can be respected for who they are as they grow older.

The Victorian Government is also establishing a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Taskforce, with a dedicated Health and Human Services Working Group and a Justice Working Group.

Mr Foley encourages people to submit expressions of interest to join the Taskforce and working groups, which will advise the Government on key issues affecting LGBTI Victorians and help guide the equality policy agenda.

Expressions of Interest are now open and close on Sunday 7 June 2015. For more information, visit: www.dpc.vic.gov.au/LGBTItaskforce for details.

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