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Australia prominent at recent UN discussions on global ageing challenges


Marcus Riley (right) and advocate from Nigeria Emem Omaokaro

Australia is doing well in the areas of aged care access and accommodation and improving its position in wellness and reablement, an Australian aged care CEO and global ambassador has told a United Nations meeting on ageing.

However, there is room for considerable improvement in providing care and protection for the rights of older persons, CEO of Queensland aged care and retirement living service BallyCara Marcus Riley told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Mr Riley has just returned from leading discussions at a United Nations open-ended working group on issues related to ageing including equality, non-discrimination, neglect, violence and abuse.

It is part of a plan for a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons, which is similar to existing conventions on disability and children.

Mr Riley, who has held state and national leadership positions with Aged & Community Services, Leading Age Services Australia and Retirement Villages Australia, is chair of the Washington based Global Ageing Network representing 24,000 organisations from more than 50 nations.

He is now also a leading figure in the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People.

The UN meetings took place over three days last week and were attended by member nations, non-government organisations and human rights commissions from around the world.

While Australia hasn’t committed to a convention, Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson attended.

Mr Riley said he was able to “tell the world what Australia does well” including having a strong overall system compared with most of world that has reasonable access for most and safety nets for those without significant assets or income.

“Our care accommodation is progressing well compared to Europe, where much of their long-term care has an institutional feel,” Mr Riley told the UN.

“We’re starting to improve our position in wellness and reablement.”

Sector should take the lead on all ageing issues

While Australia has much to tell the world about its progress in providing care and protection for the rights of older persons, there was room for considerable improvement despite and within the Living Longer Living Stronger reforms, Mr Riley said.

“As an industry we need to focus on ageing – not just care – and the protection of all human rights as we age without stereotyping older people,” Mr Riley said.

“We need to recognise the vulnerable do exist and they all need to access care, accommodation and services.

“We have them in our care here and must support their needs and protect them from elder abuse especially as the numbers of older people  grows along with increased risks of marginalisation.”

Mr Riley said the industry also needed to lead on issues such as elder abuse and positive ageing, especially in aged care facilities, and share best practice about long-term care and palliative care in coming debates.

“We need to share, learn from others and be a positive influence globally for best practice and innovation,” he said.

More information on the work of the Global Alliance here.

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