Tango Project

About the Tango Project

The Tango Project was launched in 2016 to improve responses to the difficulties (abuse and discrimination) older LGBTI people face on the basis of their LGBTI identities, bodies and relationships. Few older LGBTI people access advocacy or complaints services (see: LGBTIsubmissionAlicesGarage).

The Tango Project provided older LGBTI Victorians with an Independent Third Party (Dr Catherine Barrett) to document and respond to the difficulties they encounter, and to provide information on support options. The project was co-designed by older LGBTI people and continued until 2018.

An important part of the Tango Project was understanding patterns of difficulty and empowering older LGBTI people to identify and achieve their stated outcomes. As Patricia, an older lesbian told the project team: We didn’t think of it as abuse or discrimination. It was just the way things were. We thought we were in the wrong, so we had to shut up and live silently. 

The project also sought to identify patterns and implement strategies for primary prevention. A review of data from the first year of the project resulted in older LGBTI people identifying the need for strategies to:

  1. Mediate with family members in ways that preserved relationships
  2. Build better understanding between LGBTI subgroups
  3. Provide health and human services with feedback about service experiences.

The project team was led by Dr Catherine Barrett, Director of Alice’s Garage and Ro Allen, Gender and Sexuality Commissioner for Victoria, in partnership with older LGBTI Victorians. A project advisory group included a number of Victoria’s Commissioners and Advocacy Groups, who met twice a year.

Report on data 2017

For World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2017 we launched a report on the first year of the project. You can read the report by clicking the link here: TangoProjectReport.

Key responses

The data from and conversations with older LGBTI Victorians identified the need to bring older LGBTI Victorians together with advocacy and complaints services, in order to build trust. We also identified the need to address the abuse experienced by older LGBTI people. Key outcomes from the project were:

  1. Encounters workshop (see below)
  2. High Tea with the Commissioner (see below)
  3. New Moves – gathering of older LGBTI Victorians and Commissioners (see below)
  4. Kinfolk project – addressing abuse experienced by older TGD people  (link here)

Encounters workshop

In 2018 a workshop was held at the Better Together, Equality Project Conference, to bring older LGBTI people and Advocacy & Complaints Services together to exchange ideas about issues and services.

Older LGBTI people invited services to participate in a pre-workshop audit where the older LGBTI people audited the webpages of services and provided a written report on LGBTI inclusivity. A short film from the workshop was produced to help spread the word that Advocacy & Complaints services are here to help.


High Tea with the Commissioner

As part of the Rural LGBTI Equality Roadshow in 2017, we organised a morning tea between a group of older lesbians in Ballarat, and Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Ro Allen (below right). Feedback from the lesbians who participated was that they were grateful that a government representative had taken the time to visit.


New Moves


The importance of the Commissioners reach out to older LGBTI people was highlighted at the ADA Conference in Brisbane when Brian Day OAM was introduced to Aged Care Complaints Commissioner Rae Lamb. Brian recognised Rae from the New Moves film; looked her in the eye and said: thanks for the dance.

In 2016 Alice’s Garage and all the Queens Men hosted the New Moves Event for Victoria’s Senior’s Festival. The event drew in over 120 older LGBTI people and their allies. There were also eight Commissioners and Advocates who came to share their message of support (photos Bryony Jackson).

Watch the video here:

Some of the participants of the New Moves event

Complaint and Advocacy services

The following is a list of free and confidential complaint and advocacy services that you could consider accessing:

  • Victoria Legal Aid: Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) is an independent statutory body with a team of skilled lawyers who provide free and confidential advice and assistance to eligible people who have experienced discrimination. VLA can help you understand your rights, learn more about whether you can make a discrimination complaint, and help you take action. VLA is a safe and inclusive provider of legal services to the LGBTI communities. Phone: 1300 792 387. Website here.

  • Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission: The Commission is an independent statutory body with responsibilities under The Equal Opportunity Act, The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act and The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act. The Commission provides a dispute resolution service, information and education about equal opportunity, racial and religious vilification and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and education, training and consultancy services. Phone: 1300 292 153. Website here

  • The Disability Services Commissioner (DSC): is an independent oversight body resolving complaints about Victorian disability services and promoting the right of people with a disability to be free from abuse. DSC’s complaints resolution process is independent, free and confidential. DSC works with people with a disability, families and guardians, and service providers to improve disability services. Phone: 1800 677 342. Web: here

  • Office of Public Advocate: The Office of Public Advocate (OPA) is an independent statutory body that safeguards the rights and interests of people with disability in Victoria. OPA’s Advice Service provides information on the rights of people with disability, and matters that may affect people with disability, including: guardianship and administration; powers of attorney; consent to medical or dental treatment; and referral to OPA’s Community Visitors Program. Phone: 1300 309 337. Website: here

  • Aged Care Complaints Commissioner: The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner provides a free service for anyone to raise their concerns about the quality of care or services being delivered to people receiving aged care services funded by the Australian Government. You can make a complaint online, over the phone or by post. Phone:1800 550 552. Web: here
  • Elder Rights Advocacy: Elder Rights Advocacy provides advice on the rights of aged care consumers including how to resolve problems that interfere with the care older people and their family members are entitled to. This includes helping to explain aged care services, negotiating with service providers, assisting with complaints, providing information and education to staff and management. Phone: 03 9602 3066 or 1800 700 600 (not mobiles).Website: here
  • Seniors Rights Victoria: Seniors Rights Victoria provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people. Services include a Helpline, specialist legal services, short-term support and advocacy for individuals and community and professional education. Seniors Rights Victoria also provides leadership on policy and law reform and works with other organisations to raise awareness of elder abuse. Phone: 1300 368 821. Website: here
  • The Office of the Health Services Commissioner: The Office of the Health Services Commissioner receives complaints about health services and health privacy. The Commissioner can assist people make their concerns known to health service providers; protect people’s right of access to their health information; and assist in the resolution of complaints involving health care consumers and providers of health services. Phone: 1300 582 113. Website: here
  • Mental Health Complaints Commissioner: The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner is an independent statutory body that deals with complaints about public mental health services in Victoria, including designated mental health services, mental health community support services, and NDIS funded mental health community support services. The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner works with consumers, families, carers and services to safeguard rights, resolve complaints, and improve services. Phone: 1800 246 054. Website: here

Counselling services

  • Switchboard provides a free, confidential and anonymous telephone counselling, referral and information service for LGBTI people and their supporters in Victoria. Phone: 1800 184 527 from 3:00pm to midnight seven days.Website: here
  • beyondblue: creates mentally healthy environments and supports people across Australia – whatever their age and wherever they live. beyondblue has a tailored approach for specific groups – including LGBTI people, and a 24 hour/7 days a week hotline: 1300 22 4636. Web: here