About the Garage

Alice’s Garage is a social enterprise empowering LGBTI Elders. We strengthen the voices of LGBTI Elders, draw on their knowledge and skills to address the challenges they face and build communities where LGBTIphobia and ageism are addressed. Our purpose is to address the inequalities LGBTI Elders face related to ageism and the legacies of our LGBTIphobic histories. Our vision is to build a sense of Place, belonging and community connection for LGBTI Elders – and to inspire others to do the same. Alice’s Garage is part of the Celebrate Ageing Program, a social enterprise challenging ageism and building respect for older people.

About Alice

The Garage pays homage to Alice Anderson, a motor mechanic who set up an all female motor service in Kew in 1919. Alice was described as ‘unconventional’ – women were not expected to be independent and a garage was considered mens business. Undeterred, Alice provided training and opportunities for women to work as pupil mechanics; she also offered women driving classes, mechanical instruction and the opportunity to work alongside mechanics on their own cars. We recognise Alice empowered women with information, opportunities and respect for their capacities. Almost 100 years later we build on Alice’s principles to empower LGBTI elders through information, opportunities and respect for their capacity for autonomy.

About our work

This is a summary of the work Alice’s Garage has initiated or collaborated on:

  • Royal Commission into Quality and Safety in Aged Care: participated in round table with the Commission on issues for LGBTI Elders, working with several LGBTI Elders on submissions and developing a submission to the Commission
  • Rainbow Ageing: working with La Trobe University on an ARC funded project to build the first national evidence base on the health and well-being of older LGBTI Australians and utilise this information to stimulate and guide reforms to policy and service provision.
  • Kinfolk: working TGD Elders, family relationship services and aged care services to improve TGD Elders control over their gender identity and expression in the context of their own families and aged care services
  • Finding Strong: collaboration with an 84 year old lesbian to document her historical experiences of so called ‘cures’ and contemporary discrimination in guides for LGBTI culturally safe services. 
  • Never a Crime: art based workshops to heal the shame and stigma associated with LGBTIQphobic abuse and celebrate Pride
  • Abundance: a story pantry affirming TGD people as they age using text, photographs, film and preserves of fruit and vegetables
  • Hold Hands on a Tram: a project raising awareness of Lesbian Herstory and the resistance that got older lesbians through historical experiences of lesbophobia
  • Runway6: an LGBTI Elder’s catwalk at the Embolden2018 Festival. The oldest model was 88 years old and the catwalk was an exploration of LGBTI Ageing and beauty 
  • Place: this ongoing project works to build a sense of Place for LGBTI Elders within LGBTI communities and the broader community. Activities include an annual Tea Tent for LGBTI Elders and Allies at Midsumma Carnival; an exhibition about LGBTI Elders and Place at the National Elder Abuse Awareness Conference in 2019 
  • 100 years of Love: a project documenting the lives and loves of three lesbian couples living in Ballarat who have collectively been together for over 100 years
  • Strong House: a webpage of messages from LGBTI Elders about getting through tough times, including the Marriage Equality postal vote
  • The REAL Big Hug: contracted to coordinate an event celebrating the achievements of allies who supported LGBTIQ Victorians through the Marriage Equality postal vote
  • Grateful Rainbow: a facebook group/web resource established on the one year anniversary of the Marriage Equality Postal Vote to build the mental wellbeing of LGBTIQ Australians. The page build over 800 members within a month and has been going for over a year
  • Pulse of My Heart: is an annual film documenting the journey of a lesbian couple living with dementia. The fourth film will be complete in September 2019
  • Pink Wolves: In May 2017, Alice’s Garage worked in partnership with Adam Pulford to host a vigil in solidarity for gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The vigil was attended by around 800 people
  • Tango Project: Developed and coordinating a project documenting older LGBTI Victorian’s experiences of abuse and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex. Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Ro Allen is project patron.
  • New Moves: In partnership with All The Queens Men hosted an event for Senior’s Festival 2016 which bought Victoria’s Commissioners and older LGBTI Victorians together for a High Tea. Produced a video with messages of support from the Commissioners to older LGBTI Victorians.
  • The Baroness of Balaclava: In partnership with Switchboard Victoria hosted an event for Port Phillip Council Senior’s Festival 2017 celebrating the life of gay activist Richard James, including production of a film.
  • Tscreen: worked with BreastScreen Victoria on consultation with TGD community members on how to create TGD inclusive services – the organisation achieved a Rainbow Tick in 2019
  • Beautiful Women: Developed and coordinated a campaign for BreastScreen Victoria to encourage LGBTI women to undertake a mammogram. The Campaign included photographs of LGBTI women from 26 -76 years of age and was picked up by Vanity FairHuffington PostBuzz Feed and Mashable.

About Director

Alice’s Garage was established by Dr Catherine Barrett in 2016. Catherine has over 30 years experience working with older people as a clinician, educator, researcher and capacity builder. Catherine has been working with LGBTI Elders since 2007, including the following projects and activities:

  • lgbti_ageing_and_aged_care_strategy: part of a working group, working with the Department of Human Services reviewing the Strategy (2015 – 2017).
  • National Survey of older LGBTI Australians: Researcher working with Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University and The University of Washington on an ARC Linkages Grant to develop Australia’s first quantitative evidence base on the needs of older LGBTI Australians (2016 – current).
  • Val’s Café, established a national project promoting the health and wellbeing of older LGBTI Australians – with around 600 members and averaging over 5000 website hits monthly.
  • Still Gay …: Research and resource development on the needs of LGBTI people with dementia in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Australia.
  • Extra degree of difficulty: Research and resource development on the needs of older LGBTI carers and the carers of older LGBTI people in collaboration with Carers Australia.
  • Gender is just a part of who I am: Research and resource development on trans ageing and trans inclusive aged care services in partnership with TransGender Victoria and The Gender Centre NSW.
  • As we age: Research and resource development on intersex ageing and aged care in partnership with OII.
  • On the Same Page: Research and resource development to understand how the diverse aged care workforce provides LGBTI inclusive services.
  • Then and Now: produced a series of films on the experiences and needs of older lesbian, gay and trans Australians.
  • Aged Care How2 Program: Developed a 12-month education program to coach aged care service providers through the practical steps involved in becoming LGBTI inclusive. Supported the dissemination of this Program to three other states.
  • National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Conference: Coordinated Australia’s first National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Conference in 2014 and repeated the conference in 2015.
  • Operation LOLA: Worked with Council on the Ageing, Victoria to develop a process for linking older LGBTI people with their peers.
  • No Need to Straighten Up: in partnership with Curtin University, funded by beyondblue to document older LGBTI people’s experiences of discrimination and the impact on their mental wellbeing.
  • Improving the Mental Health of older LGBTI Australians: In partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute and the RMIT School of Mental Health funded by beyondblue to develop an educational resource on older LGBTI people’s strategies for mental wellbeing in the face of discrimination.
  • We live here too: funded by Matrix Guild of Victoria to develop a resource for aged care service providers on the needs of older lesbians.
  • LGBTI Inclusive Aged Care Assessment: Grant from the Aged Care Branch at the Department of Health, Victoria to research the information needs of Aged Care Assessors, develop resources and deliver education on LGBTI inclusive services.
  • Cultural Safety: produced Its More Than Sex and Clothes, a paper outlining the perspectives of older LGBTI people and service providers on cultural safety in aged care.
  • HACC Pack: Grant from the Aged Care Branch at the Department of Health, Victoria to develop resources and deliver education to assist Home and Community Care (HACC) Services deliver LGBTI inclusive services.
  • My People My Story: Developed a narrative based resource for aged care service providers to better understand the experiences and needs of older LGBTI people.
  • Strengthening Diversity Planning: wrote a chapter for the Department of Human Services on the needs of LGBTI clients accessing home services.
  • Australasian Journal on Ageing LGBTI special edition: coeditor for a special LGBTI edition of the journal and coauthored four papers.
  • Founding member of the Australian Association of Gerontology’s LGBTI Special Interest Group (2013 – 2017).
  • National LGBTI Health Alliance’s Ageing Advisory Group (2012 – 2015).
  • Co-Chair of a Federal Committee that developed the National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy that was launched in 2012.
  • Member of a National Ageing Expert Advisory Group providing advice to the Federal Government on the Living Longer – Living Better aged care reforms (2012).
  • Member of a National Quality Indicators Advisory Group developing quality indicators for older people accessing residential aged care (2013).
  • Member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee’s Ageing and LGBTI Inclusive Practice Working Group providing advice to the Victorian Government.
  • Member of the Ageing Consultative Committee providing advice to the Federal Minister for Ageing, Mental Health & Social Inclusion (2012).
  • Well Proud Women: recipient of a grant from the Australian Lesbian Medical Association to work with BreastScreen Victoria to identify the needs of lesbian, bisexual and trans women accessing breast screening services and to promote inclusive services.
  • How2 create a GLBTI inclusive rural service: developed a rural program in partnership with the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health (CERSH) at The University of Melbourne to coach rural health and human service organisations to develop GLBTI inclusive services.
  • Beyond a Rainbow Sticker, How2 create a GLBTI inclusive service: repeated the program for service providers on becoming LGBTI inclusive.
  • Beyond a Rainbow Sticker: Developed a program for Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria in 2011 to coach organisations through the process of developing GLBTI inclusive practice. The Program includes working with organisational champions to audit practices, implement and evaluate improvements over a 12-month period. The program is currently in its seventh year and is being implemented in four states.
  • Permission to speak (2009): Researcher for Matrix Guild of Victoria and Vintage Men to document aged care service provider’s perspectives on caring for older LGBTI people. Project funded by Reichstein Foundation.
  • My People (2008): Researcher for Matrix Guild of Victoria and Vintage Men on a qualitative project funded by Reichstein Foundation to explore older LGBTI people’s experiences of aged care.