A new peak body established to protect vulnerable older Australians from elder abuse will focus on developing a national plan to counter the growing problem.
Attorney-General Christian Porter launched Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA) last month on the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June.
He called the abuse of older Australians “tragic” and said the federal government was committed to working with key stakeholders to develop solutions to address the issue.
“EAAA has been established to work in partnership with government to promote the safety, dignity, equality, health and independence of older Australians through education, capacity building, data gathering and research,” the Attorney-General said.
Developing a national plan to combat the issue will form a key role of the alliance.
Funding of $500,000 has been provided by the federal government through Budget initiatives to help EAAA contribute to policymaking and system design that prevents and addresses elder abuse.
EAAA will also investigate developing a central knowledge hub so older people, their families, carers and support staff, and allied professionals can access the information and training necessary to curb elder abuse.
A national plan emerged as a key recommendation from the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission’s Report: Elder Abuse – a National Legal Response, which highlighted numerous examples of physical abuse, financial abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people.
“As Australia’s population ages, with the proportion of those aged 65 or over rising from 15% of the population in 2014-15 to 23% by 2055, we need to address the risk of abuse that faces people as they age.
“The Council of Attorneys-General agreed to work towards the establishment of a national register of Enduring Powers of Attorney as a key step to provide protection from financial abuse of older Australians.”
On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) voiced its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people around the globe and called out the systematic mistreatment and neglect of the nation’s elderly living in residential aged care due to chronic understaffing.
The ANMF’s current national aged care campaign is calling on federal politicians to legislate minimum staffing numbers and an appropriate mix of registered and enrolled nurses and carers to residents.
“This level of mistreatment continues to occur across Australia with little recognition or response. But it is an issue that’s affecting the health, wellbeing and basic human rights of our elderly and needs urgent attention now,” ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.
The ANMF is encouraging nurses and carers working in aged care to report any concerns they have about the possible abuse of nursing home residents or others in the community to the Aged Care Complaints Commission.