Shining a light on elder abuse – have your say on protections for older Canberrans

The ACT Government has today released a discussion paper for public consultation designed to reform certain aspects of the justice system to combat elder abuse.

The paper examines the potential introduction of a specific criminal offence of elder abuse and a proposal to provide a more accessible avenue to respond to potential elder abuse through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Attorney General Gordon Ramsay said that the Government was looking at the best way forward on developing specific offences for elder abuse and that community feedback would be an important part of developing any such legislation.

“Elder abuse is unacceptable, and it is something that greatly concerns us all – we all have older people in our lives, whether they are parents, relatives, friends or neighbours, who we care about and want to keep safe from harm and exploitation,” Minister Ramsay said

“Like family violence, elder abuse often happens behind closed doors, and is often perpetrated by family members or by people they know and trust. It can include not only physical assault but also neglect and financial abuse.

“We wish to consult with the community about this issue and bring it to the forefront.”

The proposals include several options for offences and sentencing provisions for perpetrators engaging in elder abuse, including consideration of corporate responsibility, as well as an increase to the ACAT’s role and scope to remedy the misuse of power of attorney privileges.

“The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has also shined a spotlight on the intolerable abuse of older people that has occurred in aged care institutions,” Minister Ramsay said.

This consultation aligns with the ACT Government’s commitment to focus on this important issue under the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians 2019-2023 and the first Implementation Plan under that document.

“We have an increasingly ageing population both here in Canberra and across our Nation. A consequence of this is the need to focus our commitment to protecting older Canberrans from abuse as they enter the more vulnerable stages of their life,” Minister Ramsay said.

“The safety and well-being of older people are matters very close to my heart. Older Canberrans have contributed so much during their lives and continue to enrich our community. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their senior years.

“This consultation provides us all with an important opportunity to consider some specific ways to address elder abuse through the justice system.”

The discussion paper is available at and submissions are open until Wednesday 29 January 2020.

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