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New support network stands up for seniors rights

Independent and confidential advocacy support for older Australians is now more accessible than ever following the launch of the Federal Government’s Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) National Aged Care Advocacy Program and announcement of $25.7 million to fund it across three years.

A free nationwide support network for older Australians has been launched (Source: Shutterstock)
A free nationwide support network for older Australians has been launched (Source: Shutterstock)

The new and free nationwide support network has a total of nine service delivery organisations across Australia with one in each state and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) as well as two in the Northern Territory.

With the support of funding and the nine locations, Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt says the program should immediately provide strong local voices for individuals in need and provide help to people aged 55 and over who encountered serious frustrations or need guidance in navigating their aged care rights.

“The aim of the service is simple - providing the free, independent and confidential advocacy support and information our elderly Australians deserve,” he says.

“Through OPAN’s network of nine service delivery organisations… we are now providing a nationally consistent model of independent advocacy.

“This supports all elderly Australians including those with varied needs who might be living with a disability or dementia, are care leavers, or are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.”

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has welcomed the launch and funding with Chief Executive Officer Pat Sparrow saying that the provision of a nationally consistent network of independent advocacy and support services represents a vital resource that will help to empower older people using aged care services.

“Supporting older Australians to know their rights is a key dynamic for the healthy functioning of the aged care industry,” she says.

“The announcement today is a welcome service providing positive engagement between aged care providers, consumers and support services.

“As the peak body representing not-for-profit aged care providers, it is our view that access to free, confidential advocacy and support will help facilitate an overall, positive engagement between older Australians and aged care providers.”

Minister Wyatt adds that advocacy services, like the National Aged Care Advocacy Program, have a “proud record” of supporting older Australians, especially in aged care settings by ensuring their rights are respected, and that they can make informed decisions.

He also states that preventing and addressing elder abuse is also a priority and has provided OPAN an additional $1 million towards its work on continuing elder abuse prevention and support activities.

Older people, their families or carers in need of advocacy can seek support or find out more about OPAN online or by calling 1800 700 600

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