On Elder Abuse Day, get to know your rights

On World Elder Abuse Day, the ACT Greens have called for a renewed focus on seniors rights.

As part of last weeks’ ACT Budget, the Greens welcomed a Seniors Rights Service as part of the ACT Legal Aid Commission to provide targeted legal services to older Canberrans who are experiencing, or are vulnerable to, elder abuse.

Greens spokesperson for Seniors Caroline Le Couteur said she hoped that this Service would ameliorate some of the Greens concerns with services currently available in the Territory, namely the existing Older Persons’ Abuse Prevention Referral and Information Line.

In a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission in June 2017 (attached), Ms Le Couteur noted that the Information Line acts as a referral service, with no formal crisis response, case management or investigative functions. It is not well publicised or well known in the community, and operates only during business hours.

“The Information Line needs to be accompanied by more outreach and community awareness to ensure those who most need the service are able to access it.”

Ms Le Couteur’s submission also called on the Federal Government to review the Code of Banking Practice require banks to train their staff in the nature and impact of domestic and family violence, including economic abuse, and in identifying customers who may be elder abuse and other forms of violence when making an application for credit.

A recent Australian Institute of Family Studies report found that between 2% and 10% of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year. However, the prevalence of neglect is possibly higher as cases may go unreported.

“There is still a taboo and stigma attached to elder abuse and we must continue to address that in order to protect those who are vulnerable to bullying, harassment and exploitation as a result of age and frailty, perceived or otherwise,” Ms Le Couteur added.

“The Greens would like to see increased recognition of the society-wide issue of elder abuse, and robust responses – from both ACT and Federal Governments to minimise the harm caused to our older generation.”

The ACT Greens believe that older people have the right to live with dignity, feel safe and live free from abuse, neglect and violence.