National

Discrimination devastated elderly lesbian

By AAP Newswire

An elderly volunteer, who is also a lesbian, was devastated when told to stop visiting an aged care facility's lonely residents.

The woman, who is referred to only as Malloy, could not understand why any of the residents would complain about her, as the facility claimed in 2017.

She was horrified and even more upset after an uncomfortable meeting with the nurse manager, despite the woman's backflip to allow visits with two or three residents.

"She said that I was not allowed to talk about my sexuality with the residents," Malloy told the aged care royal commission.

"I was devastated to be told that I was no longer allowed to visit all my usual residents and to hear that they had been complaining about me."

The 84-year-old said she did not hide the fact that she was a lesbian while at the facility.

But it was also not something she actively spoke to residents about.

"I do not think they would have even known what my sexuality was," she said on Thursday.

Malloy said the nurse manager told an aged care rights advocate: "We don't have people like that here."

After a meeting with the advocate, Malloy was allowed to continue to volunteer at the facility with a smaller number of residents.

The discrimination opened up old wounds for Malloy, whose family reacted badly to her sexuality.

"I experienced a lot of discrimination when I was younger and these events brought back all of those negative feelings," she said.

Malloy said after a breakdown in 1960, her psychiatrist tried various types of conversion therapy on the 25-year-old including electroconvulsive therapy and LSD treatment.

She said she had also experienced a lot of discrimination from people in the Catholic Church.

"I think that LGBTQI people should be treated with respect and people should be able to be themselves without having to hide their sexual orientation."

Malloy still volunteers at the facility next to her retirement village, again seeing as many residents as she likes.

Now an active advocate for LGBTQI people in aged care, Malloy said the facility had done nothing to promote a culture of inclusiveness.

The royal commission's Melbourne hearing was told diversity should be part of business as usual for aged care providers across the board.

Provider Australian Multicultural Community Services CEO Elizabeth Drozd said she hoped the royal commission would drive continued improvements for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

"I hope that CALD seniors and people with other special needs as well will feel included, heard, that their needs and preferences will be met or certainly providers at least will try their utmost to do that," Ms Drozd said.