In December last year, the LGBTIQ support service Switchboard was told that they would lose two-thirds of their federal government funding. This was a huge blow, and has put a lot of LGBTIQ people in aged care at risk of losing this vital service.
The cuts have been made via drastic changes to the funding the government provides through the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS). The purpose of the CVS is to reduce loneliness for those in aged care by connecting them to volunteers.
But it’s not just LGBTIQ people losing out. The changes to the scheme mean that many other groups helping people in aged care will also lose funding.
Switchboard’s program ‘Out and About’ is specifically for connecting LGBTIQ people in aged care with LGBTIQ volunteers, and it is the only specialist service doing so in Victoria. Older LGBTIQ people are particularly prone to discrimination and alienation in aged care, and in general.
Maintaining services like this is extremely important. The federal government even acknowledged ‘Out and About’ as a priority program in its own aged care diversity framework in 2017. This same government is now ignoring its own advice and leaving LGBTIQ people in aged care high and dry!
This program has already been forced to reduce its reach somewhat, leaving many older LGBTIQ people isolated. Socialists demand that funding for Switchboard, and other services for those in aged care, is fully reinstated and further expanded.
Links should be made between all those groups suffering from funding cuts in order to strengthen the fight for decent services for all.
With aged care in the spotlight because of the royal commission, and a federal election looming, now is the time to come together to put pressure on both the major parties. We need to increase funding to aged care and improve the lives of all older people.
By Kai Perry