Local voices for seniors in need

A free nationwide support network standing up for the rights of older Australians was launched by the Government on Wednesday.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) would immediately provide strong local voices for individuals in need.

“A key element of our ageing and aged care reform agenda is empowering older Australians, ensuring they have voices to speak up for them when they need it most,” said Mr Wyatt.

“Through OPAN’s network of nine service delivery organisations – one in each state and the ACT and two in the Northern Territory, in Darwin and Alice Springs – we are now providing a nationally consistent model of independent advocacy.

“This supports all elder 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.”

The Government has provided $25.7 million over the next three years for OPAN to deliver the new National Aged Care Advocacy Program.

Mr Wyatt said help was now at hand for people aged 55 and over, who encountered serious frustrations or needed guidance in navigating their aged care rights.

“Advocacy services have a proud record of supporting older Australians, especially in aged care settings,” Mr Wyatt said.

“They help ensure their rights are respected and that they can make informed decisions about their future.

“People needing help should see the OPAN website or dial the freecall number and they will be linked to a local service offering personal support.

“The aim of the service is simple – providing the free, independent and confidential advocacy support and information our elder Australians deserve.”

He said preventing and addressing elder abuse was also a priority for the Turnbull Government, and OPAN would play a role in tackling this issue, as well.

“In addition to our $15 million elder abuse election commitment, I have provided OPAN with an additional $1 million towards its work on continuing elder abuse prevention and support activities,” said Mr Wyatt.

What do you think? Does the Government’s support of an older person advocacy network go far enough?

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