The Turnbull Government has extended its commitment to tackling elder abuse, with a $2 million boost to the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) as new figures reinforce the importance of the national service.
Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, said the funding would allow OPAN to continue and expand its vital work to support people experiencing elder abuse, whether in the community or in aged care and to advocate for their rights and protection.
“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,” said Minister Wyatt.
“Preventing elder abuse is everybody’s business because all older Australians have a fundamental right to expect safe, dignified treatment.”
“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.”
The Turnbull Government created the first National Aged Care Advocacy Program in 2017 and OPAN was established last year to lead the delivery of independent aged care information, advocacy and consumer education services through an existing network of nine organisations across Australia, in each state and territory.
“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
“It’s important that we shine a light on any physical, emotional or financial abuse of our elders,” said Minister Wyatt.
“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.
“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.”
“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 www.opan.com.au or call 1800 700 600.
Authorised by Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Member for Hasluck. —
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