Challenging ageism by building connections

Over the past decade there has been growing recognition of the unique challenges faced by older LGBTIQA+ people. Most of that focus has been on developing inclusive aged care services. Dr Catherine Barrett (she/her), the director of Celebrate Ageing Ltd, wanted to broaden the focus to include age-inclusive families and communities. In 2015, she established Alice’s Garage and later received funding from the Victorian Government.

‘It’s so important that older people co-lead change.’
Dr Catherine Barrett

Alice’s Garage empowers older LGBTIQA+ people by working in partnership with them to implement strategies for change. Much of this work focuses on building intergenerational connections within LGBTIQA+ communities to help protect older LGBTIQA+ people from abuse and discrimination in families, communities and aged care.

For the increasing numbers of older people coming out or transitioning later in life, conflict can emerge in families and communities. Alice’s Garage worked with three older trans and gender diverse (TGD) people to co-lead a project called Kinfolk. Together, they developed guides for families, older TGD people and service providers to support older TGD people asserting their right to gender expression.

‘When we listen to older LGBTIQA+ people, and I mean really listen – then we can understand what they have experienced and what it is that they need. I guarantee that connection and respect are at the top of the list for so many.’
Dr Catherine Barrett

Ageism is not unique to LGBTIQA+ communities, but it is something we can all work to address. Acknowledging the unique challenges faced by older LGBTIQA+ people and being open to connection are an important start.

Rainbow colours symbolising the LGBTIQA+ community