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Announcement of government support to address elder abuse

Australia’s first national peak body for elder abuse has been announced, along with a number of other initiatives, as part of a $15 million Government election commitment to leading a national agenda to address elder abuse.

Ageism and elder abuse are a ‘scourge’ on society (Source: Shutterstock)
Ageism and elder abuse are a ‘scourge’ on society (Source: Shutterstock)

In addition to providing $250,000 to Elder Abuse Action Australia over two years to establish the peak body, the creation of a Knowledge Hub, $590,000 for research into elder abuse, and Government sponsorship of the fifth National Elder Abuse Conference in 2018 have also been announced.

Attorney General George Brandis made the announcement of the initiatives, which are aimed at protecting the rights of older Australians, on 1 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.”

He adds that the Knowledge Hub is being Government funded with the hope of being able to better understand the problem of elder abuse and to better support older Australians. It will be an online gateway raising awareness and providing information and training materials for the public and professionals about preventing and responding to elder abuse.

As for the $590,000 funding for the next stage of research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Mr Brandis says the hope is to better understand the nature, scale and scope of elder abuse.

He says the research will focus on the prevalence and nature of elder abuse in Australia and be done in collaboration with the National Ageing Research Institute, the Social Research Centre and the Social Policy Research Centre.

“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.

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

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) Chief Executive Officer Pat Sparrow has also echoed the loss of dignity for older Australians attributed to elder abuse.

She says that ageism and elder abuse are a ‘scourge’ on society and that ACSA stands committed to helping fight ageism and age-related discrimination.

“At the very core of elder abuse and ageism is the loss of dignity and basic human rights of older Australians,” Ms Sparrow says.

“Older Australians make an immense contribution to communities right across our country and...we recognise and celebrate this contribution.”

With the anticipated growth of people aged over 65 to rise to 23 percent by 2055, Mr Brandis says that the Government is working closely with the aged care sector to further reform care and empower people with a focus on increasing choices in home and residential care for older Australians, with safety and quality of life the ‘top priorities’.

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