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$2 million for elder abuse prevention and advocacy


State and territory advocacy organisations will be able to use $2 million of federal funds to help implement an elder abuse prevention and advocacy strategy.

The funds, announced in the May federal budget and available from July 1, come on top of $1 million provided last year. The latest grant will go towards information, education and advocacy services provided by OPAN’s national network, says CEO Lewis Kaplan.

“Almost all the money will go to the state and territory organisations that are part of OPAN to deliver direct services to people affected by elder abuse on the ground,” he told Community Care Review.

It follows OPAN’s recommendation for a prevention and advocacy framework that arose from the previous round of funding, Mr Kaplan said.

“The preventative end is about educating people about what to do if they have issues with elder abuse, and the individual advocacy is modeled on either helping people understand their rights or standing beside them to actually express their rights.”

He says while most of OPAN’s services focus on the consumer, there will be a flow-on to the home care sector where staff work closely with clients in their homes and often find themselves part of the conversation.

“In the home care space what we want to have happen is to help providers identify suspected elder abuse,” he said.

“Sometimes an aged care provider working in somebody’s home might just pick up some signs and symptoms and then, being able to talk to either the person themselves or their manager, say I think there’s something not right going on here, what can we do about it.

“That’s not saying that home care providers are responsible for resolving elder abuse issues, but certainly they and GPs and other providers will be expected to play a role in helping to identify it.”

Australia’s peak body for older Australians, COTA welcomed the funding boost, saying it would allow OPAN to trial its new advocacy and prevention model.

“Whether it manifests itself as financial abuse, emotional abuse or physical abuse, elder abuse is unacceptable and a sign of a much broader problem in our attitudes towards older Australians,” CEO Ian Yates said in a statement.

“All older Australians should be afforded the fundamental human right to live free from violence, neglect and abuse.”

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt paid tribute to the work being done by OPAN saying it conducted 285 education sessions and received more than 1,330 reports of suspected elder abuse in is its first year of operation.

He says up to 12 per cent of older Australians may be victims of elder abuse.

Providers who suspect a client may be experiencing elder abuse can contact OPAN on 188 700 600.

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