MEDIA RELEASE: National Plan to combat elder abuse must be a top priority

Leading seniors advocate, COTA Australia, is calling on the Federal Government to act promptly to better protect older people from abuse by swiftly implementing key recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) Report “Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response” tabled in the Senate yesterday and launched today by Attorney General George Brandis.

COTA Australia CE, Ian Yates, said the report provides a comprehensive, considered and proactive blueprint for seriously tackling elder abuse across Australia and reversing the growing incidence of abuse suffered by far too many older Australians.

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

“The report released today recognises that elder abuse takes a myriad of forms, including psychological abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse; too often carried out by family members but also by carers and other trusted individuals.

“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.

“A National Plan which governments at all levels get behind is essential and we call on the Federal Government to make this an urgent priority by bringing the Report to the next meeting of COAG’s Law, Crime and Community Safety Council, as recommended by the ALRC.

“We are really pleased that the report rejects treating older people as intrinsically vulnerable, but bases its recommendations on strengthening and protecting the autonomy and agency of older Australians.

“We welcome the specific focus within the Report’s on aged care, in which the proposals are considered, balanced and not overly heavy handed. They should be referred to the Minister for Aged Care’s Review of Quality Regulation led by Kate Carnell and Ron Patterson.

“It’s great that the Attorney General, George Brandis, commissioned this report and we look forward to his positive response and leadership on this issue.

“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.”

“This report’s recommendations would create a major impact on elder abuse within a short few years if the Federal, State and Territory Governments work together instead of fudging on real action as most have done for years, with inconsistent approaches at best and inaction at worst. Older Australians deserve better.”

The launch of the report coincides with the United Nations World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which is designed to raise awareness of the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people across the world.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Bronte Kerr 0411 676 269

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.