For Russ Gluyas, being able to connect and support older members of the LGBTI community is what inspires him to work every day.
“I deliver programs, resources and community events for older LGBTI people in NSW, in support of building and strengthening their health and wellbeing,” he says.
Russ is the coordinator of ACON’s Healthy Ageing Programs. He spearheads the LOVE Project (Living Older Visibly Engaged), which works to support older LGBTI people live healthy, active and socially connected lives.
“Australia is facing an ever increasing ageing population and the effects of ageing manifest differently for people in LGBTI communities,” Russ says.
“Older LGBTI people have lifelong experiences of discrimination and prejudice, which can lead to depression and anxiety. There are significant physical health issues affecting older LGBTI people such as smoking, substance use and cancers including cervical and anal cancers. Also ageism, social exclusion, isolation and loneliness as one ages can have detrimental impacts on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
“The LOVE Project exists to empower and support older members of our communities be active, more connected with peers and engaged in the community.
“In the last 12 months, we’ve delivered weekend health retreats for people 55-plus and living with HIV, a Christmas Gathering and community consultation, HIV and ageing forums, health resources, wellbeing workshops and movie matinees and afternoon teas for older LGBTI people.
“These events have been so important as they bring our LGBTI elders, community allies and friends together.”
It’s a project that’s strikes a chord with Russ, having recently celebrated his 55th birthday.
“I’m now at the age of many of our participants and I’m so grateful to be able to be part of their lives. What I love most about my work is the face-to-face engagement I have with the older LGBTI community. So much is learnt from talking to each other that then leads into the development and roll out of activities by The LOVE Project.
So many of those activities that supports rainbow seniors would not be possible without the financial support of the community.
“Much of the work of the LOVE Project does not receive government funding and we rely on the community and private sector to be able to continue supporting older LGBTI people to lead healthy, active and more socially connected lives,” Russ says.
“We need to continue addressing the social isolation experienced by older LGBTI people through social and health related events that will not only bring the community together but also strengthen mental health, wellbeing and resilience.
“But with your help and support, we can address these issues, help improve health outcomes and foster strong community engagement of older members of our community.”
ACON’s work in improving the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people in NSW would not be possible without financial support from our communities. Many of our programs, including our work in LGBTI ageing, rely on generous donations from people like you. Any support you can provide will be gratefully accepted, and all donations over $2 are tax deductible. We’re here for the health of our community – you can be too.