The Federal Government has boosted the fight against elder abuse after announcing a $2 million package for the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).
The Federal Government has boosted the fight against elder abuse after announcing a $2 million package for the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). ALAN PORRITT

Federal Government boosts fight against elder abuse

THE fight against elder abuse has been given a major boost with the Federal Government announcing a $2 million package for the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM said the funding would be a key weapon in the face of growing concern that elder abuse is becoming rife throughout the community.

"Preventing elder abuse is everybody's business because all older Australians have a fundamental right to expect safe, dignified treatment," Minister 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.

"It's important that we shine a light on any physical, emotional or financial abuse of our elders."

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And the Minister said OPAN - which was established last year to deliver key services throughout the country - was already becoming a powerful ally for victims of elder abuse.

"New figures show that OPAN had a combined 1,330 information contacts and cases of people at risk of or experiencing elder abuse in its first year of operation and conducted 285 sessions to educate older Australians and service providers on elder abuse protection.

"The OPAN services report that the more they make their services known, the more people contact them, who often feel they have nowhere to turn to for help.

"This new funding builds on the $1 million provided to OPAN to help combat elder abuse over the past year," said Minister Wyatt.

"OPAN is using the funding to trial a national elder abuse advocacy and prevention model of information, advocacy and education services, based on successful West Australian and South Australian elder abuse prevention programs."

Key projects include:

  • 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 minimum dataset
  • Mapping elder abuse referral and support pathways in each state and territory
  • Researching special needs of rural and remote populations

Minister Wyatt said it was imperative any victims or people looking for information sought help as quickly as possible.

"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," he said.

"Separately, the Council of Attorneys-General, comprising the Commonwealth and all state and territory Attorneys-General, has committed to develop a National Plan to address elder abuse issues, including a study to examine the prevalence of elder abuse across Australia."

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

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