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Governments work on elder abuse plan


New protections for seniors and ensuring nationally consistent laws to respond to elder abuse are among the key goals of a new national plan being developed by federal and state governments.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the national plan would bring government, business and community stakeholders together to properly address the critical issue.

The plan was a cornerstone recommendation of the major Australian Law Reform Commission report on elder abuse, handed down last June.

Christian Porter

The ALRC’s report covered a range of areas including family agreements, superannuation, banking and enduring appointments.

Almost a third of its 43 recommendations involved changes to the laws governing residential and community aged care.

It recommended strengthening protections for seniors in aged care including a more extensive scheme for reporting and investigating alleged incidents.

It also proposed a new benchmark for adequate staffing levels in aged care, more extensive employee screening and regulation of “restrictive practices.”

Speaking at the National Elder Abuse Conference in Sydney on Tuesday, Mr Porter said the plan had five key goals:

  • promote the autonomy and agency of older people;
  • address ageism and promote community understanding of elder abuse;
  • achieve national consistency;
  • safeguard at-risk older people and improve responses; and
  • build the evidence basis.

But he said that addressing elder abuse was not just a legal issue and that attorneys-general would work with ministers across health, community services and other portfolios to develop the plan, in consultation with seniors, the community sector and the business and financial sectors.

Along with issues relating to the family law system, Mr Porter told the Sydney audience he intended to make elder abuse policy “a personal and central focus for the next 12 to 24 months.”

The Council of Attorneys-General expect to receive a draft of the national plan by the end of the year, he confirmed.

Victoria launches action plan

Last week Victoria became the first state to launch Australia’s first action plan to tackle elder abuse.

The plan, developed by the National Ageing Research Institute with support from Seniors Rights Victoria, the Office of Public Advocate, and community service providers, set out 10 priorities to address elder abuse.

These included the need to raise community awareness of elder abuse, increase ways to help seniors disclose elder abuse without fear, and provide education and training on elder abuse for all health professionals in health and aged care services.

“This action plan lays out simply what needs to be done to tackle the complexities of elder abuse by the community. It contains the views of older people,” said Associate Professor Briony Dow, director of NARI.

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5 Responses to Governments work on elder abuse plan

  1. JOHN PATISON February 21, 2018 at 5:09 pm #

    It’s high time we ad genuine National Nutritional Standards, this State by State approach with a population of 25M is plain stupid.
    Having been in the Industry over 35 years the portion guidelines are all wrong and that leads to poor nutrition.

    Many Thanks

  2. Ted Wards February 22, 2018 at 12:24 pm #

    Unfortunately this was tried around 2008/9 where a Federal initiative was started and guidelines etc were released and the police started the elder abuse hotline. The issues are that talking about it and addressing it are two very different things. Most elder abuse is hidden and unfortunately the few cases that have been exposed the offenders, if addressed at all were not held to task.
    Like most abuse it is still very hidden and not talked about. But talking about it and having guidelines doesn’t actually stop offenders from abusing older people but its a start. Hopefully it will make it easier to detect in CHSP and residential care and other settings but the majority of elder abuse happens in private and the person will not talk about it. That’s the heart of the issue, educating those who it is happening to that it is ok to complain.

  3. Barbara Connor February 22, 2018 at 3:22 pm #

    Awareness of a problem is great, lots of nice brochures everywhere and even a special day assigned to the issue. BUT, who do you turn to when you need help. An advocacy agency? The type of person who is prepared to abuse an elderly relative is not going to be receptive to interference in what they see as their personal business. If you’ve ever dealt with a person like this you would know that it will only make matters worse for the victim. The police? Even with evidence the standard police line is ‘I’m sorry, we can’t help you’. After that, there is nothing, just the brochures. We need an ‘Elder Protection Services’ department like a Child protection services department. And in most cases, the offender is the VCAT appointed guardian or a carer.

  4. Kaye Beazley February 24, 2018 at 4:05 pm #

    Not all Elder Abuse goes on in aged care.Some of us are taken advantage of even though we are still in our own homes and not necessarily disabled. Some of us cannot afford lawyers to have contracts read for us and some of these contracts are very convoluted.

  5. Jenifer Lee July 9, 2018 at 10:39 am #

    The most responsive and effective strategy to combat elder abuse is an ‘all of government approach’ that encompasses elder abuse in all its forms. A fully integrated approach tackles the problem as a preventative measure through to responsive strategies that ensure that the older person is protected and enabled to live safely and securely in the community. There needs to be a balance between the need to protect the autonomy and dignity of the older person and the responsibility of the state to institute protective measures that don’t place the burden back on the vulnerable older person to take action.

    Elder abuse is considered ‘private and between family members’ it is time the private became public. The law was changed to call out a ‘one punch’ as a crime yet as a community we still avert our eyes around the abuse of the elderly

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