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Improving end-of-life care for LGBTIQ+ communities


Ensuring inclusive and affirming care for all individuals is a fundamental responsibility in healthcare, especially during the vulnerable end-of-life stage.

However, for many in the LGBTIQ+ community, accessing palliative care services can be a daunting and potentially distressing experience due to long-standing barriers and discrimination.

To address this crucial issue, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia has developed a pioneering eLearning program aimed at educating and equipping healthcare professionals to provide inclusive and respectful palliative care for LGBTIQ+ patients.

The Healthcare Channel has caught up with Robert Hardy, Director of Training & Capacity Building at LGBTIQ+ Health Australia to talk more about this important initiative.

“Everyone wants to feel supported and to have their individual needs met at the end of life, and this includes affirming a person’s sexual orientation, gender and bodily diversity,” Robert explains. “Only then can person-centred care take place that meets the unique needs and respects the wishes of every person.”

The path to providing inclusive palliative care for LGBTIQ+ communities is not without obstacles. “Many LGBTIQ+ people have had previous negative experiences with the healthcare system, and this may continue to impact their access and experience of palliative care,” Robert says.

“LGBTIQ+ people fear that palliative care services may not understand their unique needs or that their wishes will not be respected.” This often results to palliative care services being avoided by LGTIQ+ people or accessing them later than required.

Another significant challenge is the lack of recognition and understanding of diverse family structures within the LGBTIQ+ community. As Robert explains, “LGBTIQ+ people may have complex and diverse family structures. Some have become estranged from their family of origin because of who they are. Many LGBTIQ+ people have developed their own sense of family called ‘chosen families’ including partners, ex-partners, LGBTIQ+ friends, and allies.

“LGBTIQ+ people often fear their biological or family of origin will become their default legal decision-makers, and that their chosen family will be dismissed, resulting in their wishes not being respected.”

The eLearning Journey The eLearning program aims to address these concerns by taking healthcare professionals on a comprehensive journey. “The eLearning takes the participant on a journey from understanding the unique healthcare needs of LGBTIQ+ communities and exploring the barriers to inclusive care through to developing strategies to ensure services are welcoming and inclusive,” Robert explains.

“Whilst the barriers are explored to support participants to understand the issues and concerns for LGBTIQ+ people, the eLearning focuses on the enablers to inclusive care, such as using inclusive language, creating welcoming environments, and having inclusive end-of-life discussions.”

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia is also taking other initiatives to improve the overall health and well-being among LGBTIQ+ community:

Silver Rainbow program 

Silver Rainbow project is designed to improve the experiences of LGBTI people as they age and enter the Australian aged care system. Australia was the first country to have a National LGBTI Ageing & Aged Care Strategy. Combined with other legal reforms, this has resulted in the ageing and aged care sector being increasingly focused on inclusive practice, but more work is needed to meet the health and wellbeing needs of LGBTI elders.

Through this project, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia provides training and capacity building to aged care providers to meet the needs of LGBTI older people. Together we are working to ensure aged care services are inclusive of the diverse genders, bodies, sexualities and relationships of older Australians.

MindOut program

MindOut develops and delivers national suicide prevention initiatives for the mental health and suicide prevention sectors to help them meet the needs of LGBTIQ+ populations. In doing so, the program aims to improve the mental health outcomes and reduce suicide and suicidal behaviour amongst LGBTIQ+ people and communities.


QLife provides anonymous, LGBTIQ+ peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about a range of issues including sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.  

QLife services are free and include both telephone and webchat support, delivered by trained LGBTI community members across the country. Our services are for LGBTIQ+ individuals, their friends and families, and health professionals.

Policy and advocacy

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia provides a national voice on policy related to the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ communities.

We work collaboratively with a wide variety of stakeholders to produce evidence-based policy. As a peak body we rely on our membership to contribute their ideas, inspiration, experience, and expertise to the policy process.

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