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Assaults on Gold Coast aged care residents 67 percent higher than National average

Questions and concerns have been raised following the release of ‘break-down’ statistics for Queensland in relation to the Department of Health’s annual national nursing home reportable assaults statistics.

There were 2,862 serious assaults and sex attacks on nursing home residents over 2015/16 (Source: Shutterstock)
There were 2,862 serious assaults and sex attacks on nursing home residents over 2015/16 (Source: Shutterstock)

The statistics, which are released every November, are not broken down and do not name the homes for the assaults, but the break-down of these statistics for Queensland was provided to Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) following a Freedom of Information application.

The CPSA application was for reportable assault statistics in the Gold Coast area, but CPSA say that an application can be replicated for any area.

“There were 2,862 serious assaults and sex attacks on nursing home residents over 2015/16 according to a report published by the Australian Government,” the CPSA says.

“The Australian Government tries to downplay the obvious horror of such numbers by expressing them as a proportion of the number of residents during any given year.

“Over 2015/16, the Government report says there were 234,931 residents in care, which means that ‘only’ 1.2 percent of nursing home residents were viciously assaulted.”

In the information obtained by CPSA, it shows that reportable assaults on the Gold Coast, a ‘prime retiree area’, was 2 percent, or 67 percent higher than the national average.

Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, says that the health, safety and wellbeing of older people who reside in aged care services is of “paramount importance”.

“Any mistreatment or assault of a care recipient is unacceptable,” he says.

“Providers of residential aged care have a responsibility to provide a safe and homely environment and protect care recipients from harm.”

He adds that there is regulatory framework in place that requires providers to report alleged or suspected reportable assaults within 24 hours to the police and Department of Health.

“It is essential that the police are notified as they are the appropriate authority to investigate and substantiate any allegations of assault,” Minister Wyatt continues.

“Providers are required to report alleged or suspected assaults and all cases may not be substantiated by police investigations that occur following a report.

“As part of the regulatory framework, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency assesses the systems and processes that providers have in place at least once a year through unannounced site visits.

“The Quality Agency monitors improvements by providers to ensure that they are meeting the required standards under the Aged Care Act 1997 and responding appropriately.”

Currently the Government is considering the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry ‘Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response’ through the Law Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC) – with the Attorney General’s Department the lead agency in co-ordinating the Government’s response.

Through the LCCSC’s Working Group, which was established in October 2016, face-to-face consultations with Commonwealth agencies, state and territory government agencies and civil/service provider organisations on potential measures to address the recommendations are currently being undertaken. It is aiming to complete its consultations by the end of September 2017, with a report due to LCCSC in November 2017.

The work of the LCCSC comes following an inquiry into elder abuse undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission to examine the laws and frameworks to safeguard older Australians from abuse with the report released in May 2017.

The report provided a number of recommendations to ‘combat elder abuse’ on a number of issues, including aged care.

If families or friends have any concerns about the care of their relatives, they should contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552.

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