Seniors and legal centres call for government to enact new elder abuse recommendations while providers say report will inform ongoing reviews.
Seniors have called on the federal and state governments to act on the Australian Law Reform Commission’s recommendations for tackling elder abuse.
Council on the Ageing Australia said the ALRC’s report “provides a comprehensive, considered and proactive blueprint for seriously tackling elder abuse across Australia.”
The recommendations would also help reverse the “growing incidence of abuse suffered by far too many older Australians,” COTA said in response to the report released on Wednesday.
The report outlines 43 recommendations for changes to Australia’s laws governing a range of areas including guardianship, family agreements, banking and superannuation. A third of the commission’s recommendations centre around aged care.
COTA chief Ian Yates said his organisation supported the commission’s proposal for a comprehensive national plan that would involve all levels of government.
“We welcome the specific focus within the report’s on aged care, in which the proposals are considered, balanced and not overly heavy handed,” said Mr Yates.
These recommendations should be referred to the current Review of Quality Regulation being led by Kate Carnell and Ron Patterson, Mr Yates said.
Similarly, Aged & Community Services Australia chief executive Pat Sparrow said the ALRC’s recommendations on aged care needed to be considered as part of the Carnell review.
Ms Sparrow noted the commission’s recommendations on aged care focus heavily on legal issues including regulation, reporting and monitoring.
She said greater evidence was needed that creating new regulations would provide additional protection for seniors, whether living at home or in residential aged care.
“We need to ensure that all of the pieces fit together to improve outcomes for older people and we don’t create unintended consequences as a result of more regulation and reporting without achieving improved protections,” she said.
Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said that Australia’s aged care system was internationally recognised and highly regulated.
Mr Rooney said the sector is already considering and reviewing issues around workforce, quality standards and the changing nature of the provision of care and the report will be beneficial in informing those reviews.
“Any changes to existing standards and guidelines need to be considered with regard to their ability to efficiently and effectively improve safeguards for older Australians,” he said.
The National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC) and the National Older Persons Legal Services Network welcomed the report as “an important milestone in tackling the growing problem of elder abuse.”
“The prevailing forces generated by an aging population, increasing ageism, a generation of younger to middle aged Australians locked out of the housing market, fragmenting social capital, lax banking controls and growing mental health and substance abuse issues have created the perfect conditions for an elder abuse epidemic” said Scott McDougall, convenor of the network and director of Caxton Legal Centre in Brisbane.
However, as many of the areas requiring reform fall within the jurisdictions of the states Mr McDougall said it was critical that the Commonwealth and state governments work together to address the issue.
Related AAA coverage: Elder abuse inquiry calls for aged care changes
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