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Practitioners on how they are providing safe healthcare for our LGBTQIA+ communities

24 May 2022

What do practitioners need to know to provide safe healthcare for LGBTQIA+ patients?  
Key points
  • Providing safe healthcare for LGBTQIA+ communities as a practitioner is the focus of the latest Taking care episode, which follows our episode focusing on the patient experience.
  • We hear from clinical neuropsychologist, Board member of the Victorian Pride Centre, and Commissioner at the Victorian Multicultural Commission; Dr Judy Tang  and clinical psychologist and Senior Research Fellow; Dr Lee Cubis.
  • Together they speak about the changes, small and big, that practitioners can make to deliver safe care to LGBTIQA+ patients.

In this episode of Taking care, we hear from clinical neuropsychologist Dr Judy Tang and clinical psychologist Dr Lee Cubis about their experiences providing healthcare to LGBTQIA+ people, speaking also as members of LGBTQIA+ communities themselves.

As Dr Cubis highlights, patients from all communities should expect a combination of warmth, compassion and a place to feel heard.

‘When we’re working with people from LGBTQIA+ communities, we also need to go an extra mile to create a space for people where they know their entire story is allowed to be in the room with us.’

‘They could come with a level of trepidation and anxiety about opening up and potentially wondering what the outcome might be if they were to bring their full selves to a healthcare service,’ Dr Tang said.

Creating a safe space is key to ensuring patients are comfortable accessing care. 

‘There’s a balance between letting people know that “hey, this is a safe space and it’s OK and you can tell your whole story, nothing will shock me or make me disgusted or judging you in any way.” ’

‘And then at the same time, accepting or understanding that people often have a lot of trauma around their story, so I will also let them know I will not push you to disclose something that you don’t want or aren’t ready to disclose,’ Dr Cubis said.

Both acknowledge there can be difficulties in finding care that meets people’s needs, including access outside major metropolitan areas, but point to improvements in service offerings and education of health professionals to provide nuanced care.

They suggest simple and practical actions to make people feel safer accessing care, including using preferred pronouns on email signatures, asking if someone has a partner rather than a husband or wife, not asking patients to choose male or female on a form, and using rainbow flags in posters, badges or lanyards. 

They encourage practitioners not to worry about getting it wrong and instead seek out learning resources, listen to patients and ask questions in a respectful way.

Useful links

Did you know?

The Taking care podcast series offers professional and consumer perspectives on current issues and answers some frequently asked questions about public safety in healthcare. Download and listen to the latest Taking care episode today.

Ahpra releases a new episode fortnightly, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia.

You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking Care’ in your podcast player.

Contact us

  • For media enquiries, phone (03) 8708 9200. 
  • If you have questions or feedback about the podcast, email [email protected]
  • For registration enquiries, please phone 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 9285 3010 (overseas callers).
Page reviewed 24/05/2022