Sex, gender and sexuality

The ARCSHS research priority area Sex, Gender and Sexuality aims to provide evidence to influence policy and program development as well as practice in a wide range of social settings such schools and youth clubs, workplaces, sport, and other education settings. We are positioned as a major player in framing the agenda and delivering the evidence to understand sex and sexuality in contemporary Australia. Through national surveys of the general population, our research tracks patterns and practices over the life course and across time. Our qualitative research contributes to a deeper understanding about the lived experience of gender and sexuality, focusing on the mainstream and on marginalised and diverse communities, including same-sex attracted and gender-questioning young people. We also focus on the intersection of sexuality, gender, ageing, disability, race, culture and mental health. Further research examines the conditions that normalise violence and abuse, and the ways that these cultures can be changed to promote respect and non-violence.

Research projects

The Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships

Anthony Smith, Juliet Richters (University of New South Wales), Chris Rissel (University of Sydney), Richard de Visser (University of Sussex, UK), Judy Simpson (University of Sydney), Andrew Grulich (Kirby Institute), Paul Badcock

The Australian Study of Health and Relationships is our most important study of sexual and reproductive health. Conducted once a decade, it provides a snapshot of the sexual health and well-being of the Australian population and provides information essential for the development of policy and the delivery of sexual and reproductive health programs across Australia. The survey is anonymous, and people aged 16-69 from randomly selected households are personally invited to take part. The survey is designed to reflect the experiences of all Australians regardless of their relationship status or whether they are sexually active. In order to achieve this, the interview is specifically tailored to the history the participant reports and does not ask questions that, given the history of the participant, are not relevant. The types of questions that might be asked include a sexual history, partnership status, health status, recent sexual activity, sexual difficulties, reproductive history, sexual coercion and intimate partner violence, information about sexually transmissible infections, and knowledge and attitudes related to sexuality and sexual health. This NHMRC-funded project involved collaborations with researchers from three other universities and two external research agencies. Twelve peer-reviewed articles based on this research were released in a special issue of Sexual Health in November 2014.

Contraceptive Use, Pregnancy Intention & Decisions of Australian Women (CUPID): A Longitudinal Study of Patterns of Contraception Use and Access to Contraceptive Information, Advice and Services for Young Australian Women

Investigators: Jayne Lucke, Deborah Loxton (University of Newcastle), Christina Lee (University of Queensland), Annette Dobson (University of Queensland), Ian Fraser (University of Sydney), Edith Weisberg (Family Planning NSW). Project team: Danielle Herbert (Queensland University of Technology), Melissa Harris (University of Newcastle), Britta Wigginton (University of Queensland), Catriona Fraser, Anna Graves (University of Newcastle), Ryan Tuckerman (University of Newcastle), Clare Thomson (University of Newcastle), Jacqui Coombe (University of Newcastle). Industry Partners: Family Planning NSW, Bayer Australia

The extent of unintended pregnancy in Australia is not well understood, but the ability to plan pregnancy is essential to women's personal, social and economic well-being. Anecdotal reports suggest that rural women have less access to family planning and related services, but there is no strong evidence on the needs of rural women. This longitudinal project involves an online survey of 3795 young women from across Australia on three occasions, with the aim of providing empirical evidence to support policy and practices to assist women to manage contraception as they wish and to plan more effective and appropriate services. The study aims to (i) examine patterns of contraceptive use and non-use and determine factors that influence contraceptive use, including age, other demographics, knowledge, attitudes, sexual and reproductive histories, health service use, and area of residence; (ii) track women over time to establish patterns of change in contraceptive use and factors associated with changes in use; (iii) identify sources of contraceptive and pregnancy information and services accessed by young women, and differences between rural and urban women; and (iv) examine urban and rural differences in the prevalence of unplanned and planned pregnancies, and the outcomes from these pregnancies (live birth or pregnancy loss). Data collection will be completed in 2015. Preliminary findings have been presented at several national sexual and reproductive health conferences. Funded by Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant with cash and in-kind support from Family Planning NSW and Bayer Australia.

Evaluation of AFL Victoria's Fair Game Respect Matters Project

Sue Dyson, Jo Grzelinska

Fair Game Respect Matters was a six-year program (2008-2014) run by AFL Victoria in one regional and two metro community football leagues. The program, which ended in June 2014, aimed to change cultures in community clubs to make them safer and more inclusive for women and girls. This primary prevention of violence against women approach worked to change social norms in community football clubs, and to influence individuals and the wider community. The evaluation used a constructivist approach and in 2013-14 focused on the impact of the program, unexpected changes, and the transferability of the program to other sports and settings. Knowledge exchange activities originally planned for 2014 are on the agenda in 2015, following discussions with VicHealth.

Evaluation of the AFL Club Champions Community Education Program

Jo Grzelinska, Sue Dyson

The evaluation of the AFL's Club Champions community education program was completed in 2014. The program aimed to change attitudes and behaviours concerning alcohol, illicit drugs and respectful behaviours in social settings, with a focus on relationships with women. The evaluation reported on the process, outcomes and impact of the program up to twelve months after the training was delivered. The reports, which affirmed the importance of this kind of one-off community education program as an adjunct to comprehensive sexuality and relationships education, have informed the development of future education programs in AFL community clubs and have implications for respectful relationships education to prevent violence against women and girls.

Women's Health West 'United - Preventing Violence Together' Project Evaluation

Sue Dyson, Elizabeth Smith

This project is evaluating a prevention of violence against women project in workplaces in the west of Melbourne (2013-2015). The intervention is being co-ordinated by Women's Health West in fourteen participating local government and non-government organisations. The intervention, known as United, uses an equity approach to address gender inequalities within workplaces. Building on the establishment of baseline data in 2013, in 2014 the evaluators conducted reflection workshops and interviews with stakeholders from the project. The evaluation uses a constructivist approach, providing ongoing feedback on findings to assist in continuous improvement and addressing problems that arise early.

Creating Healthy Workplaces: 'Y Respect Gender'

Sue Dyson, Elizabeth Smith, Daniel Reeders

ARCSHS has been evaluating Y Respect Gender, a workplace intervention in the YMCA designed to promote gender equity and respectful relationships at work. This three-year project is part of the VicHealth 'Creating Healthy Workplaces' program, which has funded five projects to study different aspects of workplace health between 2011 and 2014. In this third year of evaluation, qualitative data collection has continued, and a second staff survey was conducted to compare change over time against the baseline data collected in year one. Regular meetings have also been held throughout the year with the project management team, which consists of the YMCA, ARCSHS and VicHealth representatives. As part of this project, ARCSHS also participates in a VicHealth 'researcher community of practice' to share learning as the different projects develop. 2014 was the final year of the evaluation, although knowledge transfer activities will continue in 2015.

'Fair Go, Sport!' Phase two

Gillian Fletcher, Lottie Turner

2014 saw the completion the collaborative evaluation of Phase Two of the 'Fair go, sport!' project. Implemented by the Victorian Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission, the project aims to increase awareness of sexual and gender diversity and to promote safe and inclusive environments. Phase Two saw 'Fair go, sport!', originally implemented within Hockey Victoria, extended into a school (Reservoir High School) and into additional sporting codes.

Does Talking About Sexuality Change the Game?

Gillian Fletcher

Funded by a VicHealth Innovations Grant, this research is examining the experiences and opinions of sports people within Victoria in relation to sexuality, participation and inclusion. A total of 26 in-depth interviews were carried out with people who, between them, played competitive sports ranging from Australian Rules football to Ultimate Frisbee. The project was overseen by a Reference Group that brought together members of key sports-related organisations, and a focus group discussion with leaders of sports-related Victorian organisations was also held. The research found that, while gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) people do join mainstream sports clubs in Victoria (as opposed to gay, lesbian or bisexual-identified clubs), the space available to them in these clubs is constrained and controlled.

2015 will see the finalisation of a set of principles of inclusion and participation, developed in collaboration with VicHealth and VicSport.

Canon Law and Clerical Child Sexual Abuse in Australia since 1917

Timothy Jones, Kate Davison

Child Sexual Abuse has been a crime in Roman Catholic Canon Law from the earliest records of Church governance and has been periodically restated throughout the history of the Church. It is clearly characterised as a crime for which a priest can be deposed from the clerical state in both codes of Canon Law in operation in the twentieth century. Yet, prior to 2001, it appears that no priest had ever been tried in a canonical court for sexual offences against a minor. This report, commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, provided a history of the Code of Canon Law as it applies in Australia to the disciplining of a member of the clergy for sexually abusing a child and reporting such abuse to the relevant civil authorities from 1917 until the present day.

Whose Family Values? The New Christian Right and Sexual Politics in Postsecular Australia

Timothy Jones, Keir Wotherspoon

This ARC DECRA project is investigating how the resurgence of the Christian Right in Australia since the 1960s has influenced understandings of religion, love and sex. Using transnational and postsecular analytical perspectives, it is explaining religious changes in Australian sexual politics, showing how particular models of sexuality and affection became 'thinkable' and others 'unthinkable'. In doing so, it will contribute significant new knowledge of contemporary cultural and sexual politics in Australia, illuminate the usually neglected place of religion in contemporary Australian history and show the historically contingent nature of the relationship between religious and sexual discrimination.

The Rainbow Tick Accreditation Program

William Leonard, Sunil Patel, Philomena Horsley

The Rainbow Tick Accreditation Program is a national LGBTI-inclusive accreditation program. The Rainbow Tick consists of six standards against which organisations can be accredited to demonstrate that all their practices, procedures and protocols are LGBTI-inclusive. The Rainbow Tick standards were developed by Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV) in collaboration with Quality Innovation Performance (QIP), a not-for-profit accreditation organisation dedicated to delivering accreditation and support services to a diverse range of organisations. As part of the Rainbow Tick program, organisations can undertake LGBTI inclusivity training provided by GLHV, including professional development modules and GLHV's HOW2 program. The HOW2 consists of four workshops run over six months and takes organisational representatives through each of the six Rainbow Tick standards and what is involved in making their agency LGBTI-inclusive. In order to demonstrate compliance with the Rainbow Tick standards, organisations undertake an internal audit (developed by GLHV), followed by an independent on-site assessment conducted by a QIP assessment team. Organisations that gain Rainbow Tick accreditation will be listed on a national registry of LGBTI-inclusive, rainbow-ticked agencies. In 2014, GLHV (/La Trobe University) finalised a licencing agreement with QIP for use of the Rainbow Tick standards.

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria

Roz Ward, Joel Radcliffe

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) aims to reduce homophobia and transphobia in schools and provide safe and inclusive educational environments for same-sex attracted, intersex, and gender diverse students, teachers and families. In 2014, SSCV delivered professional development sessions to over 2500 school staff in schools in Victoria. In addition, over 3500 print resources and guides for students and teachers were distributed. SSCV also provided advice and guidance to 18 schools that were supporting a transgender student to affirm their gender identity at school. SSCV is funded by the Victorian Department of Education and through the HEY Project (Victorian Department of Health). In October 2014, additional funding was received from the Commonwealth Department of Education in partnership with the Foundation for Young Australians. In 2015, the program will run with this additional capacity and 3.9 staff members.

Rainbow Network

Lottie Turner

Rainbow Network (RN) is a Victorian, state-wide support and capacity-building network for anyone working with same-sex attracted, intersex, transgender and gender diverse (SSAITGD) young people. RN provides training, resources, a monthly e-bulletin, secondary consultations and professional supervision to individuals and organisations that work with and on behalf of SSAITGD young people. In 2014, RN continued to support the growth of new regional working groups ('Q' groups) in Melbourne's north, east, southeast and west. These smaller working groups will facilitate the development of stronger, local care pathways for SSAITGD young people. In 2014, RN's membership grew to 640 youth representatives in Victoria, and the network provided professional development and secondary consultations to more than 850 workers. RN distributed over 1500 copies of resources to agencies and workers, and its website averaged 37,000 views per month. RN is delivered in partnership with the Department of Health funded HEY Project.

Delivery of National LGBTI Aged Care Training in Victoria, 2014-2016

Philomena Horsley, Alison Elliott (Banyule Community Health)

GLHV is currently delivering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex ( LGBTI) aged care training to the aged and community care sectors in Victoria. The training is part of a national project managed by the National LGBTI Health Alliance and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health. The training, called LGBTI Diversity in Aged Care, aims to support the development of culturally appropriate services for older LGBTI people. The one-day training promotes greater awareness of the range of issues facing older LGBTI people, provides information about relevant policy and legal issues, and includes a focus on good practice and inclusive care for LGBTI clients/residents. In 2014, GLHV delivered 25 training sessions, to 436 staff from more than 100 organisations, in rural, regional, and metropolitan Victoria.

From Blues to Rainbows: The Mental Health and Well-Being of Gender Diverse and Transgender Young People in Australia

Lynne Hillier, Anne Mitchell, Elizabeth Smith, Tiffany Jones (University of New England), Jennifer Dixon, Roz Ward

This project explored the well-being and mental health of gender diverse and transgender young people in Australia (aged 14-25 years). Funded by beyondblue and the first of its kind in Australia, it highlighted alarming rates of mental health concerns, self-harm and suicidality among this population. However, it also showed the ways in which the young people were caring for themselves and others through advocacy and peer support. Support from schools and families was found to be a protective factor for young people with rates of depression and suicidality reducing when young people experienced acceptance in the forms of general support and affirmative approaches such as using correct pronouns and names. One important finding from this study was that one third of the 189 young people who completed the online survey identified with genders that do not fit within the binary man/woman, choosing gender identities such as genderqueer, or agender/non-gender instead. A community advisory group comprising transgender and gender diverse individuals (including young people) oversaw this project, and the collaborative engagement by all parties illuminated the effectiveness of such research approaches. The results from this research have already been used by community educators and policy makers, and have been presented to health professionals and schools.

A Closer Look at Private Lives 2: Addressing the Mental Health and Well-Being of LGBT Australians [previously, From Private Lives to Public Policy: Improving the Mental Health and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Australians]

William Leonard, Anthony Lyons, Emily Bariola

This project is a second phase of Private Lives 2: The Second National Survey of the Health and Well-being of LGBT Australians. It is funded by beyondblue and the Movember Foundation. It involves a targeted analysis of the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Australians, with particular focus on psychological distress and resilience in relation to sexual identity, gender identity, age, discrimination, harassment, substance use, community engagement, and health service use. A national report has been drafted, which will be launched early in 2015 and will serve as a companion volume to the original Private Lives 2 report. In addition, four peer-reviewed journal articles have been written to present in-depth findings on mental health, and these are expected to be published in 2015. Findings were also presented in two panels at the LGBTI Mental Health Conference in Sydney in June 2014.

Improving Online Therapy for Mood Disorders among Lesbians and Gay Men

Anthony Lyons, Tomas Rozbroj, Marian Pitts, Anne Mitchell, Marina Carman, Helen Christensen (Black Dog Institute)

This project is funded by beyondblue and aims to improve self-help web and mobile phone-based therapies for depression and anxiety by identifying ways to make them more inclusive and relevant for lesbians and gay men. Beginning in June 2013, the project involves two main phases. The first phase comprises an audit of online therapies, such as MoodGYM and other popular programs, to assess how effectively these meet the needs of lesbians and gay men. The second phase comprises focus groups with lesbians and gay men to explore strategies for making online therapy gay-friendlier. The first phase was completed in 2013 and the second phase was completed in 2014. Findings from the first phase are presented in a peer-reviewed journal article that was published in 2014 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. A second journal article, which reports on findings from the second phase, is under review.

A toolkit had been developed to provide researchers, clinicians and organisations with guidelines and recommendations for developing or improving online therapies for lesbians and gay men. Download the toolkit, Improving E-therapy for mood disorders among lesbians and gay men (PDF File 362.9 KB).

Testing and Developing a Community Resilience Tool in Rural Communities

Anthony Lyons, Gillian Fletcher, Amanda Kenny (La Trobe Rural Health School), Jane Farmer (La Trobe Rural Health School), Julie Rudner (La Trobe Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences), Lisa Bourke (University of Melbourne), Kaye Knight (La Trobe Rural Health School), Kylie Carra (La Trobe Rural Health School), Emily Bariola

This project is funded by the La Trobe University Research Focus Area 'Building Healthy Communities'. The project pilots a Collective Resilience Assessment (CRA) tool, developed by ARCSHS staff, and assesses associations between collective resilience, community engagement, and health and well-being in Warracknabeal in western Victoria. The CRA tool is an innovative approach to understanding resilience, which has strong policy and practice implications. Current tools focus on individual-level resilience, while government policy emphasises collective resilience for overcoming community problems. Data collected from this project are expected to provide new information for understanding collective resilience in rural communities. Two phases of data collection were carried out in 2014. The first phase involved surveys sent to every household in and around Warracknabeal. The second phase built on the survey and aimed to develop further understanding of community engagement and collective resilience within the town, by conducting a series of face-to-face interviews and a focus group with town residents, plus key informant interviews. Data analysis is underway and a peer-reviewed journal article is under review.

The Healthy Equal Youth (HEY) Project: A Victorian Same-Sex Attracted and Sex and Gender Diverse (SSASGD) Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative

William Leonard

The HEY Project aims to reduce self-harm and suicide among SSASGD young people and improve their mental health and well-being. The project provides funding for seven agencies, each of which has particular expertise and experience in working with and on behalf of SSASGD young people. The project aims to build the capacity of each organisation while enabling the seven organisations to work collaboratively with each other and the youth and mental health sectors to create an SSASGD youth platform within the mainstream youth sector. The HEY Project also includes an annual funding round that provides small one-off grants for SSASGD youth projects at the local level. In 2014, GLHV delivered training to nearly all headspace offices across Victoria as part of the HEY Project. GLHV also developed a separate HEY Project website to profile each of the funded agencies, the work being done by HEY grant recipients and the collaborative work being undertaken in the emerging SSASGD youth platform. The HEY Project also provides funding for two of GLHV's programs, Safe Schools Coalition Victoria and Rainbow Network. The HEY Project is funded by the Victorian Government for four years at a total cost of $4 million with funding due to end 30 June 2015. It is jointly managed by GLHV and the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria.

Something for Them: Meeting the Support Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Young People who are Newly Arrived, Refugees or Asylum Seekers

David Mejia-Canales, William Leonard

The project builds on the recommendations of an earlier pilot project, Nothing for Them, completed in January 2014. Stage two of the project aims to develop and trial resources, information and training that address current service gaps and provide increased professional and organisational support to LGBT young people who are refugees, newly arrived or asylum seekers. These will be developed and trialled in partnership with relevant agencies and individuals across the government, NGO and academic sectors. The project will involve a small number of interviews with LGBT young people who have been refugees, newly arrived or asylum seekers in the past 10 years to ensure that their voices and experiences are included in resources and training. The project's key findings and recommendations will be published as a community report. The project is funded through the Asia Altman Sub-fund from the Australian Communities Foundation.

The ALICE Study: Alcohol and Lesbian/Bisexual Women - Insights into Culture and Emotions [previously, Exploring the Relationship between Hazardous Drinking, Depression and Anxiety in Lesbian, Bisexual and Same-Sex Attracted Women]

Ruth McNair (University of Melbourne), Dan Lubman (Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre), Tonda Hughes (University of Illinois), Kelsey Hegarty (University of Melbourne), William Leonard, Rhonda Brown (Deakin University), Amy Pennay (Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre)

The study looked at the complex relationships between hazardous drinking and depression and anxiety in same-sex attracted women (SSAW). The study aimed to: investigate how these relationships are shaped by the intersection of cultural norms and systemic sexual orientation discrimination; identify the predominant socio-cultural influences on mental health help-seeking among SSAW who are hazardous drinkers and/or have depression/anxiety; and review and enhance professional development training on substance use and mental health in sexual minority populations with a focus on SSAW. The research findings have been presented at four national and one international conference and two papers submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication. A final report was submitted to beyondblue in June 2014 detailing the study's key findings and included the successful trialing of a new LGBT alcohol and drug and mental health module to a range of relevant health professionals and community workers. The module built on training developed by GLHV and included new frameworks and information on SSAW. The training was delivered in partnership with Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre. In March 2015, the module will be presented at International Medicine Addiction Conference held in Melbourne and jointly hosted by the RANZCP, the RACGP and the RACP.

Work, Love and Play: Understanding Resilience in Same-Sex Parent Families

Amaryll Perlesz (Bouverie Centre), Andrew Bickerdike (Relationships Australia), Jennifer Power (Bouverie Centre), Marian Pitts, Margot Schofield (La Trobe School of Public Health and Human Biosciences)

The Work, Love, Play study is a research project focusing on the health and well-being of same-sex attracted and transgender parents living in Australia and New Zealand, which was conducted between 2008 and 2014. The study was funded by the Australian Research Council, in partnership with VicHealth, Relationships Australia National, Relationships Australia Victoria, ACON, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and the Queensland AIDS Council (formerly the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities). The study involved a three-wave longitudinal survey of parents (2008, 2010, 2012). The survey explored parents' health, wellbeing, relationships, experiences of discrimination, social connectedness and parenting. The first wave of the survey in 2008 attracted over 450 participants, making it one of the largest studies of this population group. Alongside this, a major outcome of the study was the development of a set of practice guidelines for healthcare workers in working with same-sex attracted parents and their families and an accompanying short training course. Over 5000 copies of these guidelines were distributed nationally and over 150 services participated in a training session.

Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex People

Catherine Barrett

This project supports ageing and aged care services to deliver inclusive services that are specific to the needs of older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people. Aligning with the Principles of the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Ageing and Aged Care Strategy, the objectives are to promote relevant Departmental strategies to the community and aged care service providers; develop the capacity of aged care service providers to deliver LGBTI inclusive services; raise awareness of the needs of older LGBTI people; assist aged care services to develop inclusive care policies; and develop innovative projects to link older LGBTI people to appropriate aged care services. It is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services as part of the Commonwealth's Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants Fund.

Val's Café

Carolyn Whyte, Catherine Barrett

Val's Café is a network of health professionals, government and older LGBTI people that facilitates information sharing and dissemination of up-to-date research results about LGBTI ageing and older LGBTI people. The aim of Val's Café is to promote understanding of healthy ageing and the health and wellbeing of older LGBTI people, and to inform improvements to policy, services and older LGBTI people's lives. Central to this aim is creating safe and inclusive services that recognise and value older LGBTI people. This is achieved by working directly with service providers to foster an understanding of the unique histories and experiences of their older LGBTI clients. The name Val's Café is inspired by the pioneering work of Val Eastwood who ran Val's Coffee Lounge, a meeting place for the 'camp' community in early 1950s Melbourne. Many LGBTI people of Val's generation are currently receiving aged care services, and Val's Café works to ensure that they receive the welcome that many found in Val's Coffee Lounge. Val's Café supports service providers in a number of ways to promote inclusive services for older LGBTI people. These include education, networking, resource development, capacity building, advocacy, policy and strategy, and workforce support and development. Currently, Val's Cafe has membership from over 450 aged care service providers. In 2013, Val's received a GALFA grant to establish a website (see www.valscafe.org.au). The website has around 5000 visitors per month and is constantly updated with new resources and news. Val's Café also has over 200 followers on twitter. Some of our major projects for the year included:

  1. Then & Now : In collaboration with Minus18, The Matrix Guild of Victoria, Vintage Men and TransGender Victoria, we produced three films documenting the lives and experiences of older lesbian, trans* and gay Australians. Set for release in March 2015 the films are expected to increase the visibility of older LGBTI people in the broader community and will also be packaged with an education kit for use by aged care services.

  2. National Conference : In October 2014 we hosted the National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Conference. The two-day conference attracted more than 250 delegates and bought together researchers, service providers, community groups, policy makers and older LGBTI people from around the country. Supported by the City of Melbourne, the conference took place at the Melbourne Town Hall. Key discussions on the approaches and challenges in improving the health and well-being of older LGBTI people took place. Conference evaluations were overwhelmingly positive and the Conference will be repeated in 2015.

  3. Creating an LGBTI-inclusive aged care service : This 12-month program involved five workshops coaching aged care services through the practical steps involved in becoming LGBTI inclusive. The program attracted 26 participants from 10 rural and metropolitan organisations providing community aged care, community health, advocacy and residential aged care services. This aged care specific program provided participants the opportunity to network and learn from each other as well as enabling the facilitators to provide aged care specific information and resources.

A Resource Kit Targeting Depression and Anxiety among Older Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Australians

Briony Dow (National Ageing Research Institute), Catherine Barrett, Phil Maude (RMIT), Jean Tinney (National Ageing Research Institute), Carolyn Whyte

This project was funded by beyondblue and is a collaboration between the National Ageing Research Institute, Val's Café and RMIT. Forty older LGBTI Australians have participated in interviews to draw on their strategies for managing discrimination and preventing depression and anxiety. This information will form the basis of educational resources that will be piloted and evaluated in workshops for service providers, lectures for undergraduate students, and a community forum for LGBTI communities. The project provides the opportunity to learn from older LGBTI people about strategies for getting through challenging times and to share these lessons with service providers who can build on the strengths older LGBTI people have.

LGBTI Inclusive Aged Care Assessment Services (ACAS)

Pauline Crameri, Catherine Barrett, Tim Firth (Western Health)

This project was funded by the Department of Health, Victoria, to support Aged Care Assessment Services (ACAS) in Victoria to develop LGBTI-inclusive assessment practices and services. To guide the project, a survey asked ACAS Assessors to identify perceived barriers to LGBTI-inclusive assessment. The survey clarified the importance of shifting focus from 'asking the right question' to ensuring an understanding of historical experiences of older LGBTI people and providing culturally safe services. A series of workshops were facilitated for ACAS assessment clinicians and a set of Guide Sheets have been developed to support LGBTI-inclusive assessment. The partnership with an ACAS service has assisted in ensuring the project's activities address the needs of assessors, as well as fostering recognition for a state-wide expert within the field. The project outputs are expected to generate interest nationally, given the focus on LGBTI-inclusive assessment with the development of a National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy and the development of a Gateway for aged care and the My Aged Care website.

Preventing the Sexual Assault of Older Women

Catherine Barrett, Jean Tinney (National Ageing Research Institute), Rose Mann (McCaughey Centre and the Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society at the University of Melbourne), Philomena Horsley

The project was funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and is now funded by the Department of Social Services. It involved collaboration with the National Ageing Research Institute, the McCaughey Centre (University of Melbourne), the Centre for Women's Health, Gender and Society (University of Melbourne), Alzheimer's Australia, and the Council on the Ageing, Victoria. The project aims to strengthen the community's ability to prevent the sexual assault of older women in aged care services and the broader community. The project involved interviews and a survey to gather evidence from older women, their families, service providers and the broader community on the contexts of sexual assault. Over 90 people participated and 65 stories were shared of older women who were sexually assaulted in their own home, in health services, in residential aged care, in retirement villages or in public places. A media launch of the report was successful in gaining national and international interest. Funding is now being sought to address the issues identified in the report.

Combating the Rapid Rise of Sexually Transmitted Infections among Older Australians - Improving Safe-Sex Practice and Health, Social and Economic Outcomes

Anthony Lyons, Victor Minichiello, Catherine Barrett, Graham Brown, Sharron Hinchliff (University of Sheffield, UK), Jo Root (Council on the Ageing), Briony Dow (National Ageing Research Institute), Bianca Fileborn, Wendy Heywood, Pauline Crameri

Increased life-expectancy, improved general health and the social acceptance of divorce have significantly shifted the sexual and relationship landscape, and people are increasingly entering into new sexual relationships later in life. Accompanying this sexual and social progress is a dramatic rise in the rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) amongst older people. This project investigates the knowledge and practices of older Australians in relation to STI prevention and to produce education, resources and policy to reduce the national health, economic and social burdens of STIs. This project is funded by an ARC Discovery grant.

Developing Evidence Based Guidelines on Services for Older Trans Women, Trans Men and Intersex People

Joe Latham, Catherine Barrett

This project is being conducted in partnership with the Gender Centre (New South Wales), TransGender Victoria, FTM Shed and Organisation Intersex International Australia to research the experiences and needs of older intersex and trans people accessing health and aged care services across Australia. In 2014, eleven trans women, two intersex people and three service providers were interviewed about their experiences and needs. Interim findings indicate that trans women can experience significant distress caused by family members who do not support their gender, and service providers who do not understand how to treat trans people appropriately. For trans men in particular, service providers know little-to-nothing about the realities of trans lives. Intersex people are often mistaken for trans people and their specific needs misunderstood. Virtually no research has been undertaken into the realities of ageing for trans or intersex people. This project seeks to address the particular needs of trans women, trans men and intersex people as specific groups. The research will be utilised to produce resources for educating service providers about meeting the needs of older intersex people, trans men and trans women. The project is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.

Improving the Support Offered to the Carers of Older LGBTI People and Older LGBTI People who are Carers

Carolyn Whyte, Catherine Barrett

This project was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and is a partnership with Carers Australia. The aim of the project is to improve the support provided to the carers of older LGBTI people and older LGBTI people who are carers. An LGBTI Carers Advisory Group has been established to guide the project and in 2015 a national survey and interviews with carers will be undertaken to identify their needs. This project responds to research indicating that older LGBTI people are more likely to be carers and are less likely to access support services because of the fear of discrimination. The research will inform a guide to LGBTI inclusive services for carers and an information booklet and workshop for older LGBTI carers and the carers of older LGBTI people will be developed by Carers Victoria.

Understanding and Addressing the Needs of LGBTI People Living with Dementia

Pauline Crameri, Catherine Barrett, Sally Lambourne (Alzheimer's Australia, New South Wales)

The project is a partnership with Alzheimer's Australia to document the experiences and needs of LGBTI people living with dementia. The research team has interviewed five same-sex couples in which one partner has dementia. The research has challenged the commonly held myth that lesbian and gay people with dementia 'become straight' and has identified a reduced capacity to express sexuality for lesbian and gay people living with dementia. To date, the research team has yet to interview bisexual or intersex people living with dementia. The inclusion of a researcher from Alzheimer's Australia on the research team has enabled reciprocal learning within the research team and will lead to the first evidence based guide about LGBTI inclusive services for people living with dementia. The project was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.

Sexuality after Stroke

Catherine Barrett, Marian Pitts, Carolyn Whyte

This research and interdisciplinary practice change project began in 2013 and is a collaboration with the Victorian Stroke Network. The project aims to build the capacity of stroke clinicians to provide clients and their partners with information on sexuality after stroke. Nineteen clinicians from eight stroke services around Victoria participated in the project as co-researchers and change facilitators. The clinicians were supported to conduct a needs analysis in their service including an organisational audit, staff survey and patient interviews. Data from this needs analysis were then utilised to educate their colleagues and inform service improvements. Outputs from the project to date include: a guide to interdisciplinary practice and sexuality after stroke; a staff survey tool; and an organisational audit tool. In 2015, participants from the project will present their work at a Seminar on Sexuality after Stroke and the project will be repeated.

Sexual Well-Being and Ageing: A Study of Older Australian Women

Marian Pitts, Victor Minichiello, Gail Hawkes (University of New England), Rachel Thorpe, Bianca Fileborn, Catherine MacPhail (University of New England)

This study of the sexuality of older women is the first to examine a significant cohort of women now entering old age-the women who demanded freedom of sexual expression in the swinging 60s. They present a unique and historic opportunity to explore the subjective world of the first generation of post sexual-liberation women growing old sexually. We have interviewed 60 women born between 1930 and 1950, living in New South Wales and Victoria, to identify and challenge the complex relationships between ageism, sexism and sexual subjectivity. In addition, 100 older women were invited to participate in an online discussion of their understandings and experiences of sex and sexuality. Journal articles and policy briefings have been developed from these findings.

Work, Women and the Menopause: A Pilot Study

Gavin Jack (La Trobe University), Marian Pitts, Jan Schapper (La Trobe University), Kat Riach (Monash University), Emily Bariola, Phil Sarrel (Yale University)

This project is funded by a La Trobe University Research Focus Area 'Building Healthy Communities' grant and is the first research program in Australia dedicated to advancing theoretical and practical knowledge about the significant issue of work, women and the menopause. The project specifically aims to establish whether and how symptoms of the menopause affect working women and to identify strategies at both the individual and the organisational level for successful transition and management of the menopause within the workplace. The project utilised a mixed methods research design. Data were collected from female employees in three universities in Victoria. The qualitative component of the study involved 48 face-to-face interviews to capture women's perceptions and lived experiences of the menopause at work. The quantitative component of the study involved an online survey of over 800 women examining the relationship between certain work and organisational variables, women's health and well-being, and menopausal symptoms. Data collection was completed in March 2014 and a report of the findings was released in September. Findings have also been presented at several national and international conferences. The writing of journal articles is in progress.

Mental Health, Resilience and Sexual Recovery among Gay Men with Prostate Cancer

Gary Dowsett, Garrett Prestage, Duane Duncan, Daniel du Plooy

This study investigates the experiences of Australian gay men, and their partners, following a diagnosis of, and treatment for, prostate cancer. A review of the medical and health literature revealed that little is known about gay men's experiences or those of their partners. This study focuses on gay men's mental and sexual health, particularly on experiences of depression, and sexuality side-effects following prostate cancer treatment. The study employs a qualitative methodology, using in-depth individual interviews and electronic diary-keeping to provide new evidence to strengthen both mainstream and gay-community health service responses to the needs of these men. During 2014, the research team completed the field work and analysis is ongoing. The study is funded by a grant from beyondblue through its National Priority Driven Research Program - Men's Stream (funded by The Movember Foundation), from 2013-2015.

Talking Sexual (and Reproductive) Health - Part 2

Anne Mitchell, Jenny Walsh

Over the past two years, a team from ARCSHS has worked with a national reference group to develop a new set of materials to replace the decade-old Talking Sexual Health resource for teaching sexuality education in Australian schools. This work is being developed to support the new Australian Curriculum in Health and Physical Education currently being implemented around Australia. The focus of this work in 2014 was the development of teaching materials for year 7 and 8 classes and a set of video resources to train teachers to use the new materials.

Ansell Sex-Ed.

Pamela Blackman

Ansell Sex-Ed. is the product of a partnership between Ansell and ARCSHS. This online resource is sponsored by Ansell. Ansell Sex Ed. is a moderated online community library designed to support sex education teachers of Australia. It gathers in the one place information and resources to keep teachers up to date on all things in sex education. There are currently 2625 subscribers to the site and in excess of 2500 free Ansell Education Kits have been sent to schools and educational organisations. The most visited webpages are:

  • Free Ansell Education Kit - Australian teachers who register online can receive a free Ansell Sex Ed. Kit, which assists in teaching young people about safe sex.
  • Resources - The extra materials teachers use to enhance classroom teaching in the area of relationships and sexuality education.
  • Classroom Activities - Teaching and learning activities for teachers working with students from lower primary to upper secondary in the area of sexuality education.

At the start of the 2015 school year, Sexuality Educators will be able to order the DVD & Teacher's Pack, Ask Grandad. The Ask Grandad program has been created to support teachers delivering health and sexual wellness and comprises:

  • The short film Ask Grandad
  • Four Vignettes which promote class discussion
  • Teacher's Pack of seven interactive classroom activities.