Government doubles funding to tackle elder abuse

Reports of children cheating their elderly parents out of money prompts extra funds.

Elder abuse

Less than a year after its formation, a network set up to tackle elder abuse has had its Federal Government funding doubled.

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) will receive a $2 million boost to support all older Australians to access their rights when they are threatened by third parties.

The outreach will be available to individuals in the community as well as in aged care.

The funding announcement follows a string of elder-abuse cases reported to a West Australian parliamentary inquiry earlier this year.

That probe heard stories about elderly people financially abused by their children and grandchildren, with the vast majority of cases involving women aged from 60 years on.

“Most of the perpetrators are daughters,” according to an ABC report. “Some of them are known as boomerang kids – adult children who return to live with their parents, often after a relationship breakdown, mental health problem or losing their job.”

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the extra funding would enable OPAN to advocate for protection for people experiencing elder abuse.

“New figures show that OPAN had a combined 1330 information contacts and cases of people at risk of or experiencing elder abuse in its first year of operation and conducted 242 sessions to educate older Australians and service providers on elder abuse protection,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Estimates of elder abuse range from 2 to 12 per cent. Whether concerns are raised by older individuals, family members, aged-care residents, staff, community visitors or government officials, they must be heard and they must be acted on.”

Peak body Council on the Ageing (COTA) welcomed the funding boost, saying “all older Australians should be afforded the fundamental human right to live free from violence, neglect and abuse”.

“Whether it manifests itself as financial abuse, emotional abuse or physical abuse, elder abuse is unacceptable and a sign of a much broader problem in our attitudes towards older Australians,” COTA chief executive Ian Yates said in a statement.

OPAN chief executive Lewis Kaplan said that “while most of OPAN’s services focus on the consumer, there will be a flow-on to the home-care sector where staff work closely with clients in their homes and often find themselves part of the conversation”, Australian Ageing Agenda reported.

“In the home-care space what we want to have happen is to help providers identify suspected elder abuse,” Mr Kaplan said.

“Sometimes an aged-care provider working in somebody’s home might just pick up some signs and symptoms and then, being able to talk to either the person themselves or their manager, say ‘I think there’s something not right going on here, what can we do about it?’.

“That’s not saying that home-care providers are responsible for resolving elder-abuse issues, but certainly they and GPs and other providers will be expected to play a role in helping to identify it.”

OPAN will use the funding for a number of key projects, including:

  • developing national elder abuse advocacy response protocols
  • creating a national decision-making system to support older people, especially those living with dementia
  • implementing a national elder-abuse dataset
  • mapping elder-abuse referral and support pathways in each state and territory
  • researching special needs of rural and remote populations.

“It’s important that we shine a light on any physical, emotional or financial abuse of our elders,” Mr Wyatt said.

“I encourage everyone in need to take advantage of OPAN’s free service, which also includes individual information and advocacy support on all issues to do with aged care.

“Separately, the Council of Attorneys-General … has committed to develop a national plan to address elder-abuse issues, including a study to examine the prevalence of abuse across Australia.”

Senior Australians, their families or carers in need of advocacy should go to the OPAN website or call 1800 700 600.

Do you believe elder abuse is a growing concern? Do you know someone that you suspect has experienced elder abuse? Would you know where to direct them if that was the case



    To make a comment, please register or login
    Polly Esther
    10th Aug 2018
    Elder Abuse - All talk, no action
    10th Aug 2018
    I certainly agree that elder abuse happens. Looking into it, there are likely any number of reasons. People doing bad things for financial gain, loosing patience, overburdened stressed anxiety ridden carers and more. What concerns me is some policies of government may open doors for institutional abuse when pressure is put on the carers to do more and more. Not being able to access timely assistance via emergency services where the funds are not enough to go around, private hospitals not accepting dementia patients, hours and hours waiting in emergency departments, no ambulance service and no parking near hospital emergency departments, inadequate funding for ambulance and emergency services in hospitals. As a carer, it is simply too often a matter of access and treatment in a timely manner. Further there may be abuse via contracts signed and advice given to clients with home care packages that are related to funding and profits instead of support and care. Contractual arrangements with nursing homes, legislated ratio of staff to residents, are also a factor.

    I think we must also be taking a hard look at making access to critical services easier for carers and their loved on to get to, to get inside of and leave. Too often, the built environment makes no consideration for the infirm.

    Caring is a demanding job. Protecting loved ones from financial abuse can also be a role of a carer. I just hope these folks are not aiming at just one sector.
    10th Aug 2018
    Damn - you make the situation of my ex, for whom I'm carer, look like Heaven ....
    10th Aug 2018
    Centrelink is guilty of elder abuse.
    13th Aug 2018
    All levels of bureaucracy engage in elder abuse. When I tried to protect someone from elder abuse, I was subjected to it myself by those who should have intervened. The problem was not solved. Police and banking ombudsman chose to ignore evidence of forgery, fraud and elder abuse and courts chose to ignore obvious perjury and even an admission of fraud and theft. The perpetrator was actually rewarded. It's all a joke (though far from funny!)

    10th Aug 2018
    First tell me what senior's rights are..... the old truism that once someone has total control over another, they will abuse the controlled one, holds true in many facets of life (among the uncivilised, that is).

    Look at dopey politicians who feel an Entitlement to dictate simply because they are elected to serve.... look at cops and courts.... look at public servants ...

    Those who want power/control are those you would least want to have it - so the old Greek saying goes....

    Nothing new under the sun....
    15th Aug 2018
    Trebor...agree abt "what are Senior Rights?" but would not include the "cops," perhaps b/c only know really hard-working/caring ones. Would definitely include our now "dopey Politicians" + slack Magistrates & Judges.
    10th Aug 2018
    An extra $2 million is not even a single dollar to cover each Australian over the age of 60 years so it doesn't bode well for funding any extra help needed by those being abused.
    As Australia spends billion in overseas aid and infastructure surely they could afford a bit more to help the vulnerable aged and disabled in our own country.

    10th Aug 2018
    Some funding ought to be directed towards researching the causes of elder abuse.
    13th Aug 2018
    Greed and selfishness, most likely. Doesn't take much research to determine that is the usual motive. And on the other hand, the abused either lacks physical and emotional capacity, or is too loving and protective of the abuser and overindulges.

    11th Aug 2018
    For some people oldies do not die early enough; nobody wants to talk about that. So if you are still healthy, spend the lot and they are not after your hide.
    15th Aug 2018
    Even better Cowboy....ensure your kids are financially secure @ 25 by gifting 'em a 10% deposit on their own house. We did it & now they're wealthier than are we, not waiting for us to die & we can spend the lot altho' won't if able.

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