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National Plan needed to battle elder abuse

A new report, released on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2017, recommends a National Plan to combat elder abuse and more research into the prevalence of elder abuse.

Older people deserve to be confident they will be safe from abuse in all its forms (Source: Shutterstock)
Older people deserve to be confident they will be safe from abuse in all its forms (Source: Shutterstock)

The report, Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response, presented after 15 months of investigation by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), includes 43 recommendations of law reform to help protect older people from abuse and protect their autonomy.

“In developing the recommendations in this Report, we have worked to balance the autonomy of older people with providing appropriate protections, respecting the choices that older persons make, but also safeguarding them from abuse, says ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, Commissioner-in-charge of the inquiry.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates, says the report provides a comprehensive and proactive blueprint to tackle elder abuse across Australia and reverse the growing incidence of abuse suffered by far too many older Australians.

The consumer advocacy group is calling on the Federal Government to act promptly to better protect older people from abuse by swiftly implementing key recommendations made by the ALRC.

“We support the recommendation for a comprehensive National Plan based on a national policy framework, involving all levels of government and ranging from addressing ageism to detailed proposals for addressing abuse in aged care, in use of powers of attorney, in management of superannuation funds, in banking and in family accommodation arrangements, and more,” Mr Yates says. 

The recommendations cover abuse experienced at home, in residential care and through the financial system including banking, superannuation and Wills and estates. 

Mr Yates says older Australians deserve better and he is pleased the report “rejects treating older people as intrinsically vulnerable, but bases its recommendations on strengthening and protecting the autonomy and agency of older Australians.”

“Older people deserve to be confident they will be safe from abuse in all its forms and that if they stand up and call out incidences of abuse that they will be heard and protected, and that something will be done.”

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