$2 million in extra support to tackle elder abuse

The Federal Government has allocated $2 million in elder abuse funding to the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) as new figures reinforce the importance of the national service.


Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, said the funding would allow OPAN to continue to expand its 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 Mr 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 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.


The new funding builds on the $1 million provided to OPAN to help combat elder abuse over the past year.


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

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.


Mr Wyatt said, “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 or call 1800 700 600.


8 August 2018.