Uniting AgeWell receives LGBTI award

Susan Ditter and Vicki Pollock

Working It Out CEO Susan Ditter and Uniting AgeWell manager of integrated services Vicki Pollock

Uniting AgeWell has received a prestigious Dorothies Award for its work in providing LGBTI-inclusive aged care services.

The Dorothies are organised by Working It Out (WIO), a Tasmania-based organisation that provides support for people negotiating their sexuality and gender identity.

The awards are named after Rev Dorothy McRae-McMahon, a former Uniting Church minister and respected leader in the LGBTI community. Ms McRae-McMahon grew up in Tasmania and later became minister at Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney and the national director for mission.

Uniting AgeWell was recognised for ‘Inclusive Practice for LGBTI elders in a Faith-Based Care Service’ at a ceremony in Launceston on 17 May. It coincided with International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

AgeWell’s Strathdevon manager of integrated services Vicki Pollock received the award from Susan Ditter, executive officer of WIO.

“A lot of elderly LGBTI people have had to hide their identity for a lot of their lives, so they feel very unsafe coming into aged care because they don’t know what staff will be like or if they’re going to judged,” Ms Pollock told The Examiner.

Director of mission for Uniting AgeWell Rev John Clarke said the award was a wonderful recognition of the work Uniting AgeWell is doing to incorporate LGBTI-inclusive practice into its residential and community services. This includes establishing a senior executive LGBTI Working Group, developing an LGBTI policy and offering training to staff. Standard administration forms and procedures are also being updated to ensure they are LGBTI-inclusive.

A recent survey found that more than two thirds of Uniting AgeWell staff agree it is important for the organisation to provide LGBTI-friendly services.

Mr Clarke said AgeWell is working towards Rainbow Tick accreditation, which recognises an organisation’s commitment to safe and inclusive service delivery for LGBTI people.

“This signifies that we have worked to make our services welcoming of the LGBTI community and able to meet their needs,” he said.

Mr Clarke will host a workshop about ageing well without discrimination at the upcoming Daring Conference, a biannual gathering of LGBTI people in the Uniting Church. The conference will take place at the Centre for Theology and Ministry from Friday 10 June to Monday 13 June.

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