About

The Welcoming Social Wellness Research Project

The Welcoming Social Wellness Project is part of a Family and Community Services funded project run by Dr Tinashe Dune, Dr Jacqueline Ullman and Dr Tania Ferfolja from Western Sydney University.

The project explores older (55+) gender and sexually diverse (GSD) women’s experiences with health, social and aged-care services.

Understanding these experiences is imperative as we know that GSD women’s health and wellbeing outcomes are poorer than that of their male and heterosexual counterparts and that these outcomes are even worse for older women.

This is partially the consequence of poorly informed and ill-equipped health and community services resulting in discrimination or exclusion of GSD women.

This in turn, causes GSD women to avoid health services and increases social isolation.

In collaboration with community stakeholders and GSD women, this project seeks to develop a website with:

  1. an anonymous forum for GSD women to safely connect with one another on issues related to their use, access and experience of health, social and aged-care services;
  2. comprehensive resources pages featuring LGBTIQ-friendly services in NSW; and
  3. opportunities for present and future health, social and aged care workers/carers to build capacity in LGBTIQ-friendly service provision.

This innovative project has the potential to increase GSD women’s access to LGBTIQ-friendly services, reduce social isolation for older GSD women, increase awareness about the health and wellbeing of older GSD women and improve service provision.

The project aims to create a positive change for GSD women as they will be able to connect with other GSD women in an anonymous, private and safe interactive online forum.

The potential for change is demonstrated in our expertise in the design, implementation and evaluation of online environments which have been successful in improving social interaction and access to health services for LGBTIQ youth and for older women.

Due to the anonymity afforded to online forum users, GSD women will be able to share information without fear of discrimination – thus fostering social and emotional benefits.

We will be able to gauge the extent of such change using a quantitative survey which forum members will be invited to complete:

  1. before they engage with the online forum
  2. after 6 months, and
  3. after 12 months.

We will also know about experiences of change by asking qualitative questions within the online forum and then analysing (content and thematic) responses.

Finally, we will track traffic to and within the site’s resource pages which will be openly available.

These data gathering methods will help us to better understand participants’ connection within the online group and their community, the features of LGBTIQ-friendly services, general health and wellbeing, and the extent of self-directed [online] help-seeking.

The data sources will provide an empirical foundation from which the needs and experiences of GSD women can be discussed with a vast range of community stakeholders including health, social and aged-care providers.

This will be done via online forums and capacity-building/training sessions in which stakeholders can learn about LGBTIQ-friendly service provision and resources as well as download training modules and videos which we will create.

Please feel free to contact us if you would like more information about the project.