Hosted by the LGBTI Health Alliance in Sydney on 12-13 August, the gathering was attended by participants from diverse backgrounds, including carers, health professionals, LGBTI and HIV organisations, as well as high-ranking officials from the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.
A particular highlight was the attendance of Senator Dean Smith of West Australia, who is Chair of Parliamentary Friends of HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Diseases and a member of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTI Australians.
Senator Smith was representing Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services. However, he emphasised that he has had a long-term interest in ageing issues generally, and in relation to LGBTI elders in particular. He related that since his election to the Senate, he has openly championed issues of important to the LGBTI community.
He identified HIV-related stigma as a key issue to guard against, within the context of improving the welcome and inclusiveness of Ageing and Aged Care services for LGBTI people. He also highlighted needs of rural and remote LGBTI elders and those with dementia as key priorities.