Elder Abuse Inquiry: ALRC releases final report
The Australian Law Reform Commission has completed its Inquiry into Elder Abuse and released the final report with 43 recommendations on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (15 June).
ECLC made two submissions to the Inquiry, highlighting a range of concerns related to aged care, financial matters, resourcing of legal services and opportunities for collaborative efforts between police, hospitals, government, health services and other sectors.
The Inquiry adopted a number of ECLC’s key recommendations, including:
- The development of a national plan to combat elder abuse
- An Australia-wide prevalence study to inform evidence-based policy responses
- Increased efforts to raise awareness of ageism and elder abuse in the community
- Mandatory reporting of resident-to-resident abuse in aged care facilities
- Safeguards against the misuse of enduring documents
The ALRC also included ECLC’s insistence that empowerment and the right to self-determination are paramount to effective reform and improved wellbeing, safety and quality of life for older Australians. A number of the Centre’s specific case studies and concerns were also highlighted.
The ALRC acknowledged the importance of free legal support for older Australians experiencing or at risk of elder abuse. However, ECLC is very concerned that the urgent and clear lack of resources to respond to elder abuse – through legal and other professional supports – was not more directly addressed in the report.
ECLC urges the State and Federal governments to consider the following issues as matters of priority in addressing elder abuse:
- Funding of free legal services to assist older Australians with elder abuse concerns, including the preparation of legal documents that may mitigate risk of abuse.
- Resourcing of mediation and interpreter services to prevent family breakdown and reduce the risk that legal issues will reach crisis point.
- Establishing a clear and regulated process for verifying loss of capacity before enduring powers are enacted, particularly in financial institutions.