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Australian first elder abuse law passed in ACT

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has passed legislation to criminalise abuse against an older person, or vulnerable people, which will be the first law of its kind in Australia.

The new law will not just apply to people aged 60 and over, but also to adults who have a disability. [Source: iStock]
The new law will not just apply to people aged 60 and over, but also to adults who have a disability. [Source: iStock]

This legislation will protect older Australians in the ACT and hold individuals or organisations accountable for abuse or neglect perpetrated against vulnerable people within their care.

The new law will not just apply to people aged 60 and over, but also to adults who have a disability. 

ACT Attorney-General and Minister for Seniors, Gordon Ramsay, says this Australian first law is an important ACT Government commitment to creating an age-friendly city.

"Under the new laws, both institutions and individuals who abuse or neglect vulnerable people in their care, will be committing an offence,” says Minister Ramsay.

"In addition, those in a position of authority at an institution who become aware a vulnerable person in their care is at serious risk, must take steps to protect the person from that risk. Failure to do so will be an offence.

"Research tells us that older people and people with disability experience abuse at higher rates than adults without these vulnerabilities, and that this abuse is most likely to be perpetrated by someone they know.

“This is not acceptable. Vulnerable Canberrans have the right to live safe lives, free from neglect, abuse, violence and exploitation.

"These changes will complement existing measures that are in place to protect vulnerable people in the ACT."

The new law means that if any person responsible for the care of a vulnerable individual, whether it be voluntarily or on a paid basis, or on behalf of an institution, does not provide appropriate care, it could be considered abuse or neglect. 

Within these new changes, the Court will now have new sentencing considerations for when a victim of elder abuse is a vulnerable person.

The new elder abuse laws will be coming into effect in April, 2021.

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