May 16, 2022

The need to protect older people’s rights now and into the future

Protecting older people's rights

The push for a United Nations convention to protect the rights of older people continues in earnest despite the fact many ‘developed’ countries, including Australia, maintain their opposition to such a legally binding instrument.

The 12th session of the UN’s “Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing” recently concluded with varying degrees of participation and engagement from Member States but renewed commitment from civil society in its advocacy for and by older people.   

In the months leading up to the UN meetings, significant developments and activities occurred.  

The UN’s Human Rights Council passed a substantive resolution on ageism and age discrimination – the first of its kind – which highlighted the current gaps in national and international systems and the need for a convention.  

The Global Rally, convened by GAROP (the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People), was a signpost event for the ongoing Age With Rights Campaign, which was launched in 2021 in response to the call for more action to promote the needs of older people.  

The campaign #agewithrights is continuing to gain momentum and provides an accessible way for people to support and contribute to the important work of ensuring the rights of current and future generations of older people everywhere are properly protected.

The UN’s ongoing forum on ageing again exposed the vast and awful examples of older people’s rights being compromised, yet was hindered by politics and inadequate responses from national governments.  

The input from the Australian Government’s representatives to the UN in New York was minimal.  

At a time when the nations of the world were discussing the major issues affecting older people Australia chose not to be in the room! 

Is this reflective of our inadequate government policies for aged care and other important systems that older people rely on? 

The reasons why a UN convention is needed are numerous and increasing in importance every day.  

The right to fully participate, be independent and autonomous, be free from neglect and abuse, and the ability to access necessary services are just some examples of basic human rights that all people should enjoy at all ages.  

Yet, it seemingly has not altered the position of many national governments as to the need for a legally-binding international instrument.

The coming 12 months will provide further opportunities for organisations and individuals to actively support the rights of older people.  

Initiatives such as the Age With Rights campaign will gain exposure and increase awareness as to what must be done by our government leaders to get the right outcomes for older people at a global and local level.


By Marcus Riley – GAROP / Global Ageing Network / BallyCara

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  1. Elders rights AND responsibilities!

    The aged care charter of rights and responsibilities was changed by the liberals a couple of years ago.
    Residents rights and responsibilities was changed to just residents rights and it is failing everyone!
    With every right brings responsibility except of course if the government gets involved!

    A resident now has the right of security of tenure even if they become violent,loud, aggressive or intrusive etc.
    What about the residents next door? Don’t they have rights? Sadly there only right is to tolerate the bad behaviour because the bothersome resident can only be moved to a more appropriate area with their consent…and of course they don’t believe there is a problem!

    Don’t let the government, ours or the UN take over!

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