A new training program to educate aged care staff on how to support residents experiencing elder abuse and an abuse prevention framework have been launched in Perth this week.

The advocacy training program Talk to Us First jointly developed by Altura Learning and the Older Persons Advocacy Network aims to improve aged care workers’ understanding of consumer’s rights and the value of advocacy services.

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt launched the training program in Perth yesterday. He said the online video series would better inform aged care staff on elder abuse services and how to support the people they care for.

“These internet-based products will help aged care providers educate their workforce and the charter of care recipients rights and the responsibilities of OPAN’s advocacy services, so staff members know where to turn if they believe a care recipient needs an independent voice to stand up for their rights,” Minister Wyatt said at the launch, which was broadcast in a live webinar.

Minister Wyatt said 40 per cent of aged care residents were unaware of how to access information and services to assist them with elder abuse.

“A key element of our reform agenda is ensuring senior Australians have a voice to speak up for them when they need it most,” Minister Wyatt said.

Minister Wyatt also launched the OPAN National Elder Abuse Prevention and Advocacy Framework, which aims to reduce the risk of elder abuse and support early prevention among older people.

He said an additional $3 million has been committed to OPAN towards funding the National Aged Care Advocacy Program on top of the $27.5 million over three years already allocated. The funding aims to support OPAN to further expand its work in elder abuse prevention, early intervention and advocacy.

The new initiatives were response to the increase in calls OPAN’s Western Australian advocacy service provider Advocare receives, Minister Wyatt said.

“Advocare regularly receives 60 calls a month about elder abuse concerns. This rose to over 100 in October,” he said.

Minister Wyatt said the figures may reflect the greater awareness of the issues in aged care, “especially with the announcement of the aged care Royal Commission and the new Aged Care and Safety Commission.”

OPAN CEO Craig Gear said the training program would support older people to become more independent.

“OPAN’s Talk to Us First training highlights the ways in which aged care advocates can help and how they can empower older people to raise issues for themselves and resolve those issues for themselves,” Mr Gear said.

He said the initiatives demonstrated the value of advocacy services.

“Aged care providers need to understand why they should encourage consumers to contact OPAN directly to assist with issues or concerns, particularly before it turns into a complaint,” Mr Gear said.

Access the Talk to Us First program here.

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