Services and care that enable healthy and empowered ageing for women and gender diverse people

Health conditions affect women more as they age. Gender bias against women in healthcare is well-documented. This bias causes delayed diagnoses and poorer health outcomes for women in all stages of life. This is the case for common chronic conditions experienced by older women, such as dementia or diabetes. [1] Menopause can continue to have a big impact on the health of older women.

Key statistics

  • Older women are less likely to play sport. For Victorian women aged over 65, 6.3% take part in sport activities 3 times a week. For men aged over 65 in Victoria, it is 17.2%. [2]
  • More LGBTIQ+ women aged between 50 and 74 have never had a mammogram, in comparison with the proportion of heterosexual, non-LGBTIQ+ women. [3]

Older women from migrant and refugee backgrounds experience greater health inequalities. This is due to a lack of culturally responsive services, inadequate use of interpreters and social isolation. [4] Due to the continued trauma of colonisation, and systemic racism and discrimination, Aboriginal women also experience more health disparities. [5] This can be worse for members of Stolen Generations.

We will continue to advocate for an ‘ageing well lens’ on all government services and programs, and consider all Victorians. Age-friendly and culturally responsive health and social services are essential to healthy ageing. We will work to increase opportunities for older women and gender diverse people to access them. Through the Ageing well action plan, we consider ways to address loneliness and isolation and support improved social connections, which are important for older women and gender diverse people and are associated with living longer. We will complement this with a Pride in Ageing pilot to address the needs of ageing LGBTIQ+ Victorians.

As more services are delivered through a digital-first model, the ‘digital divide’ has also increased among older people – already the most digitally excluded group. This has exacerbated vulnerabilities for older women and gender diverse people, including social exclusion and the risk of undiagnosed health conditions. It is worse still for people with lower levels of English and digital literacy, especially for people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. [6] Through this strategy, we will explore new ways to increase digital literacy among older women, in particular for those from multicultural communities and those who experience a disability.

Case study: recognising the achievements of senior women

The Victorian Senior of the Year Awards are our chance to celebrate the many senior Victorians who share their skills, experience, time and energy with our state. For more than 25 years, the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards have recognised the volunteer work and community contributions of older Victorians, including the significant achievements of older women.

In 2022, Aunty Daphne Milward received one of the COTA Senior Achiever Awards for her leadership and advocacy for Aboriginal Victorians. For more than 55 years, Aunty Daphne has shared her wisdom, kindness and breadth of experiences with people of all ages to build cultural understanding and awareness.

Aunty Daphne is committed to sharing her expertise in community development as an active and energetic Elder with Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place. She works with the community and school groups, exhibits art, and runs a range of arts projects and workshops. Aunty Daphne has also supported a range of programs with the Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service, including education courses about elder abuse, craft workshops and healing and respite camps for women and children. She embodies the principles of ageing well and living life to the full.


[1] Women's Health Victoria, Spotlight on older women's health and wellbeing, Women's Health Victoria, 2017, accessed 6 February 2023.…

[2] Australian Sports Commission, AusPlay Data Portal.

[3] Victorian Agency for Health Information, The health and wellbeing of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer population in Victoria: Findings from the Victorian Population Health Survey, 2020, accessed 3 May 2023.…

[4] Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Submission into the Inquiry into support for older Victorians from refugee and migrant backgrounds, 2021, accessed 12 April 2023.…

[5] CA Kairuz, LM Casanelia, K Bennett-Brook et al., ‘Impact of racism and discrimination on physical and mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples living in Australia: a systematic scoping review’, BMC Public Health, 2021, accessed 06 February 2023.

[6] The Future of Work Lab, Mapping the digital divide in Victoria, University of Melbourne, 2022, accessed 12 April 2023.

Illustration of diverse people