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OPAN launch multiple elder abuse prevention resources

National advocacy organisation, Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN), launched new elder abuse prevention resources alongside Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck in Melbourne on Thursday.

OPAN's resources will address concerns laid out in the Aged Care Royal Commission’s Interim Report, which highlighted the prevalence of abuse and neglect in aged care. [Source: OPAN launch webinar]
OPAN's resources will address concerns laid out in the Aged Care Royal Commission’s Interim Report, which highlighted the prevalence of abuse and neglect in aged care. [Source: OPAN launch webinar]

The prevention resources, a mobile application, OPAN Elder HELP, and an informational video, Noticed Something?, will be new avenues for people experiencing abuse to get more information, or to teach aged care staff and the wider community signs of elder abuse.

OPAN wants the app and video to help address some of the concerns laid out in the Aged Care Royal Commission’s Interim Report, which highlighted the prevalence of abuse and neglect in aged care.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OPAN, Craig Gear, says there were 2,735 people that went to OPAN for help last year. He believes that even one person receiving a form of abuse is one too many.

“Every older Australian deserves to live free of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, the abuse of older people remains an insidious issue in Australia, affecting between 2 percent and 10 percent of older people in any given year,” says Mr Gear.

“Neglect has been particularly highlighted by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s interim report, ‘An Issue of Neglect’.

“These resources aim to provide information to volunteers and all those in contact with older people to aid them to recognise the signs of possible abuse, and to educate the wider community on the rights of older people receiving aged care, and how to access aged care advocacy services.

“It’s often aged care staff and families, as well as volunteers and visitors, who are on the frontline and might be the first to notice something is different or identify someone is at risk.  OPAN wants to provide the tools to help make taking action to abuse easier.”

Minister Colbeck said during the launch that he knew the Royal Commission would put everyone on notice, but he did not realise how powerful the interim report would be after it was released.

“We sit at a really important time right now, in the middle of a royal commission into the aged care sector. The resources that support all of that, the processes that older Australians, senior Australians, have access to quality aged care is really important,” says Minister Colbeck.

He says that a key benchmark of any society is how it treats its older citizens, particularly those who are vulnerable to abuse.

“A new elder abuse awareness video and the ElderHELP mobile phone app will help prevent abuse of older people,” explains Minister Colbeck.

“Elder abuse can take many unacceptable forms, physical, social, financial, psychological, and sexual, as well as mistreatment and neglect. 

“The video and the mobile app mean more people will have better access to key information and practical assistance about aged care rights and support.

 “All of us can take a stand to stamp out elder abuse where and when we see it or become aware it’s happening.I’m pleased to launch these two important new resources for the benefit of senior Australians, their families and carers now and into the future.”

The OPAN Elder HELP app is a free mobile tool for people to access information around advocacy, support, rights, issues and information around identifying elder abuse.

Within the app, there is easy access to phone numbers for advocates among OPAN as well as a direct link to the elder abuse line, 1800 elder help.

OPAN Community Advocate, Maria Berry, says she was excited about the new resources, which she believes would have been a massive help for herself when she was going through a similar journey with her father when attempting to access help, and support them with navigating the system.

Chairperson of OPAN and President of Elder Rights Advocacy, Mary Anne Hunt, says the elder abuse is prevalent across all communities and it is everyone’s responsibility to try to stamp it out.

“I invite everyone here today to make a pledge to take action now, to create a safer community for older Australians,” says Ms Hunt.

To find out more about OPAN’s new resources, head to their website

Hijacked OPAN question time

Following the launch of the new resources, Mr Gear asked for questions from the crowd around the new resources, which ended up being commandeered by attendees throwing hard-hitting questions to Minister Colbeck.

Some of the questions were around the announcement of the redraft of the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill and what the Government is doing to remove young people with disability from aged care.

In regards to the Religious Discrimination Bill, Minister Colbeck doubled down that as a Christian, he thinks it is wrong and not Christian to say someone else’s same sex relationship is sinful.

He refused to make comment around the newly proposed Religious Discrimination Bill and its effect on LGBTI older Australians, saying he hasn’t read the new bill.

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