June 2017 saw the release of the Australian Law Reform Commission report into Elder Abuse. It is an important report that focuses on the legal frameworks that can be strengthened to improve protections for older people experiencing elder abuse.
Elder abuse, ‘is a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person’ (WHO). It can take many forms, such as physical abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
Key recommendations of the report include:
- That a National Plan to combat elder abuse be developed, that includes: a policy framework, strategies and actions, research and evaluation
- Further research is required into the prevalence of elder abuse at a national level to better inform policy responses
- Modification of aged care legislation to allow provision for new serious incident response scheme
- Implementation of further safeguards against the misuse of enduring appointments
- Establishment of a national online register of enduring documents, including enduring power of attorney and enduring guardianship
- A review of the death benefit nomination in the Superannuation Act and Superannuation Industry Regulations
- The creation by National and State law society of best practice guidelines for the legal practitioners in relation to the preparation and execution of wills and other advance planning documents
- Amendment of the Code of Banking Practice to take reasonable measures to prevent the financial abuse of vulnerable customers
- Development of an Elder Abuse Strategy by the Department of Human Services
- Creation of adult safeguarding laws in each state and territory for ‘at risk adults’
If you or someone you know needs further information about elder abuse call:
NSW Elder Abuse Hotline and Resource Unit
1800 628 221