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Forums look at end-of-life care


Brigid Veale
19 May 2009
Making decisions about medical treatment for a partner, when they are not capable of speaking for themselves, is often a traumatic and difficult experience.

For many people in gay and lesbian relationships, or who are bisexual or transgender, the experience can be even more traumatic when their relationships are not recognised and they are excluded from the decision-making process.

A research project being conducted by Southern Cross University’s Aged Services Learning and Research Centre (ASLaRC), in partnership with ACON, is examining the attitudes to end-of-life care for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people (GLBT).

Dr Tania Lienert is coordinating the project, which she hopes will lead to a greater understanding by GLBT people of their legal rights and how to ensure those rights are met.

As part of the project, Dr Lienert is running two forums in Lismore – one for members and friends of the GLBT community and the other for service providers.

“We also hope to ensure a greater understanding by the wider community and mainstream health care providers of the importance of personal relationships and community connections for GLBT people, ultimately leading to better care,” Dr Lienert said.

“We want to raise awareness within the community about people’s rights and what legal mechanisms exist.”

People attending the forums will receive information about Enduring Guardianship, Enduring Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives.

Professor Colleen Cartwright, the director of ASLaRC, said there were many stories about family members excluding partners from decision making.

“There is also some discrimination in the health care system where relationships are not recognised. We want to make sure all marginalised groups are aware of their legal rights and how they can be met,” Professor Cartwright said.

The project is initially being run in the Northern Rivers area, with funding being sought to extend it across the state.

The first forum, for members and friends of the GLBT community, is being held on Saturday, May 23, from 1pm to 4pm in Lismore. For location details and to RSVP please contact 66593197 or email [email protected]. The second forum, for service providers, will be held at the Goonellabah Community Centre, on June 10, from 2pm to 4pm.