Federal Attorney General Christian Porter has promised a national plan to stop physical, emotional and financial abuse of people living in care.
Commonwealth and state attorneys have agreed to work together after a report from the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) highlighted a litany of examples of serious physical abuse, financial abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people.
Mr Porter told an elder abuse conference in Sydney on Tuesday that getting co-operation with the state governments was a vital element in stamping out elder abuse and the next step involved mapping the problem.
“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,” Mr Porter said.
“But right now, we don’t have a detailed picture of the problem in Australia. What we do know from overseas studies is that elder abuse affects between two and 12 per cent of older people and it affects both men and women.
“As part of our 2016, $15 million election commitment to protect the rights of older Australians, the Turnbull Government will fund a national study to examine the prevalence of elder abuse in our society and provide evidence-based findings to inform the national plan.
“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,” Mr Porter explained.
Shadow Attorney Mark Dreyfus also told the conference that Labor fully supported the national plan to address elder abuse.
“Where cost of living pressures and inaccessibility of affordable housing are pronounced, there exists a social environment where (elder abuse) is likely to become more prevalent,” Mr Dreyfus told the conference.
“Labor is committed at all levels of government to combating elder abuse in all its forms and will work with the government on implementing recommendations.”
As recommended by the ALRC, the National Plan has 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.
Do you know anyone who has been a victim of elder abuse? Have you been in a position where you have had to consider reporting someone for any type of abuse?