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Too important to let ‘slip into the shadows’


It’s time for government action to implement the Australian Law Reform Commission’s recommendations for tackling elder abuse, writes Geoff Rowe.

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s report on elder abuse, released by Attorney-General George Brandis last Friday, tabled some much needed recommendations for tackling elder abuse.

Geoff Rowe

While welcome, the report’s identification of the key issues at play by no means resolves the matter.

The hard part is deciding what comes next; the implementation and long-term action needed to ensure we tackle this problem head-on and with collective action.

Instead of further inquiries and discussions I want to see consultative and collective action from both state and federal governments to ensure the 43 recommendations provided by the ALRC are implemented, as needed.

And that action needs to be bipartisan.

I want to see a visible decline in reported cases of elder abuse as a direct result of a multi-jurisdiction approach to prevention.

I want to ensure we provide the right support and services to the people who bravely shared their experiences in the hope of spurring action on this issue.

Many people courageously voiced their experiences of abuse as part of the inquiry. We asked people to be open, honest and candid in their submissions so we could understand the intricacies, spectrum and extent of the abuse people face.

We cannot, as advocates, politicians, aged care workers, and sons and daughters urge people to speak their truth and then turn a blind eye after hearing of their suffering.

Less talking, more doing

Several inquiries in the past have shone a light on the injustices people experience, with no direct action.

While there is a place for working committees and advisory panels, this issue is too important to let it slip into the shadows of government bureaucracy and indecision.

I urge our governments – both state and federal – to implement the ALRC’s recommendations to demonstrate we are listening and responding to the needs of older people.

I commend their decision to open an inquiry, but the real impact will come when the government invests in ensuring the recommendations are fulfilled.

Geoff Rowe is chief executive officer of Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia (ADA Australia).

Related AAA coverage: Elder abuse report ‘an important milestone’ say groups

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One Response to Too important to let ‘slip into the shadows’

  1. Jenifer Lee March 21, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

    The response to elder abuse and the Commissions recommendations are now on the national agenda. There is the beginnings of a clearly defined meaning of elder abuse which is significantly different to the understanding of elder abuse in the past. The time to act is now and we all have the tools at our disposal to make change in some way, thus contributing to the larger strategic response. Financial abuse is the most insidious from of elder abuse as older people unknowingly trade off their financial security for what they perceive to be the “good deeds” of others. Older individuals have the right to live in a secure and safe environment free from exploitation and abuse. In achieving this there needs to a balance between respecting and honouring their autonomy and putting in place a strategic plan that prevents elder abuse in all its forms and takes the responsibility off the older person and places squarely in the public domain.We as part of a community cant close our eyes to the hidden and ignored abuse the older members of our community.

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