Oct 06, 2017

Preventing Elder Abuse: New Peak Body Established Protect Older Australians

Elder abuse is a reality that older people should not have to face.

However, unfortunately, far too many older people find themselves victims of physical, psychological or emotional, sexual or financial abuse.

The World Health Organization defines elder abuse as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”.

This can be at the hands of their own children, a loved one, a carer of even staff at their aged care facility.

To challenge this, in the hopes that that elder abuse will cease to exist, the government made a $15 million election commitment to leading a national agenda to address elder abuse.

It was recently announced that they would be launching Australia’s first national peak body for elder abuse, Elder Abuse Action Australia.

To establish the peak body, which would work alongside other initiatives, the Government is providing $250,000 over two years.

There is also the $590,000 for research into elder abuse, and Government sponsorship of the fifth National Elder Abuse Conference in 2018 in the pipeline too.

Attorney General George Brandis announced these initiatives on 1st October, coinciding with International Day of Older Persons.

“[The establishment of the nation’s first elder abuse peak body] will ensure that vulnerable older Australians are better supported through having their issues addressed and represented in a more coordinated and comprehensive manner,” he says.

“The new peak body will support the development of the Knowledge Hub, foster collaboration and the sharing of information to facilitate learning and innovation, and provide policy expertise to governments as we collaborate to develop programs to better support older Australians.”

There will also be an online gateway created that will provide information and training to professionals and the public alike on how to respond to and prevent abuse.

The $590,000 will go the next stage of research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, so that there is a better understanding of “nature, scale and scope” of elder abuse in Australia.

The study will be a collaboration with National Ageing Research Institute, the Social Research Centre (ANU) and the Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW).

“The abuse of older Australians can take many forms, including financial, physical, emotional and sexual,” Mr Brandis says.

“For far too long, older Australians have had these actions diminish their ability to enjoy their lives with dignity and this has too often occurred in silence.

“Elder abuse is a complex and often hidden problem in Australia… we must continue to better understand the problem and better support older Australians.

“Elder abuse is a problem that requires individuals, communities, governments, civil society and the private sector to work together to better protect older Australians.”

Mr Brandis has said the safety and quality of life of older Australian’s are ‘top priorities’, and that that Government are working with the aged care sector to further reform care.

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  1. Elder abuse is very real and well hidden. In the facilities, the elderly are scared to speak up as the carers have the power over them. In private homes, no one can see what goes on. The elderly are as vulnerable as young children. They are often physically weak, quite dependant on others and many without visitors. So much more needs to be done. In private homes, those getting money as carers need surprise visits paid to them. In facilities, they too need surprise check ups and residents need to be asked about their care without fear. One can only hope things improve before we, the younger become the elderly in care. But I fear for those now, in care.

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