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Recommendation to become reality in the fight against elder abuse

A key recommendation of the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) Report: Elder Abuse - a National Legal Response is set to take life following an announcement made this week at the 5th National Elder Abuse Conference in Sydney.

A National Plan for elder abuse has been announced (Source: Shutterstock)
A National Plan for elder abuse has been announced (Source: Shutterstock)

Attorney-General Christian Porter announced the National Plan during his conference address, saying it will look to address elder abuse through the collaboration of Commonwealth, state and territory Attorney-Generals, who will come together as part of an agreement.

As per the recommendation made as part of the ALRC Report, the National Plan will follow five goals:

  • Promote the autonomy and agency of older people
  • Address ageism and promote community understanding of elder abuse
  • Achieve national consistency
  • Safeguard at-risk older people and improve responses
  • Build the evidence basis

When making the announcement of the impending plan, Mr Porter noted that elder abuse is “not just a legal problem” and says he and the other Attorney-Generals will work with ministers across health, community services and other portfolios to develop the Plan in consultation with older Australians, the community sector and the business and financial sectors.

“Australia has an ageing population, with the proportion of Australians aged 65 or over rising from 15 percent of the population in 2014-15 to 23 percent by 2055 and there is no doubt that, as a community, we need to address the risk of abuse that faces people as they age,” he says.

“Abuse takes many forms and can have wide reaching emotional, financial and physical effects on victims [and] we have all seen or heard stories about older people facing abuse in a variety of circumstances, from financial pressure to provide family members money or change wills, to abuses in aged care settings.

“This is a key first step in bringing government, business and community stakeholders together to properly address this critical issue.”

As well as initiating the recommendation for a National Plan, the Australian Government is also funding a national study to examine the prevalence of elder abuse and provide evidence-based findings to inform the National Plan.

Mr Porter says this research builds on existing research projects already commissioned through the Australian Institute of Family Studies and its partners to develop a National Research Agenda for Elder Abuse.

“The national study will provide a strong evidence base to ensure that the National Plan provides an appropriate framework for strategies and actions that all sectors of the community can take to protect older Australians from abuse and, in the future, track our progress in protecting them from abuse,” he says.

A draft of the National Plan is expected to be received by the Council of Attorneys-General by the end of 2018.

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