Online learning to help keep senior Australians safe from sexual abuse

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Minister for Sport

The Morrison Government is partnering with the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) for an online learning package aimed at helping aged care providers and health professionals prevent, identify, and respond to sexual abuse.

Funded via a $168,000 grant from the Australian Government, OPAN is working with leading researcher Dr Catherine Barrett to develop Abuse of the older person: eLearning program for health professionals.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck said it was an important contribution to reinforce the safety of those we care for most.

“Assaults on the elderly – in any form – are deplorable,” Minister Colbeck said.

“These incidents were underlined in the findings of the Royal Commission into Age Care Quality and Safety and the Morrison Government is more determined than ever to ensure those in care are treated with respect and dignity.”

OPAN’s online program, which will consist of 33 online learning modules, will also be aimed at health and allied health workers, such as GPs and optometrists, who may be the only people some senior Australians confide in if they are assaulted.

Dr Barrett will also launch a #ReadyToListen social media campaign to encourage senior Australians and their families to report sexual assault.

Minister Colbeck said the initiative would complement the Government’s $17.7 billion response to the Royal Commission.

“One of the five pillars of our comprehensive response is a $942 million investment in driving systemic improvements to residential quality and safety, and the learning package is certainly consistent with that objective,” Minister Colbeck said.

“I welcome this initiative as a positive step towards building the skills and capacity of aged care providers to better identify, prevent and respond to sexual assault.”

He said the Government’s Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) is another key part of providing greater protections to consumers.

SIRS for residential aged care, including flexible care in a residential aged care setting, started on 1 April 2021.

It will be expanded into aged care home services from 1 July, 2022.

Minister Colbeck said the SIRS expands the responsibilities of aged care providers in relation to identifying, recording, managing, resolving and reporting assaults and a broader range of serious incidents in residential aged care.

“Combined with the vital programs implemented by OPAN, we continue to reinforce the protections for older Australians, ensuring peace-of-mind for those receiving care and their families.”

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