World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEADD) happens every year on 15 June, and is a day to reflect on the treatment of vulnerable older people in our community.

Elder abuse is a phenomenon that does not discriminate, yet, similar to acts of domestic and family violence, a higher proportion of victims are female. Elder abuse is defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person’.

There are growing concerns about the increasing rates of elder abuse in Australia and steps are been taken to address the issue and implement changes to protect older people.

In March 2019, the Australian Government launched its National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians (National Plan). The agreed focus of the National Plan is to build an understanding of elder abuse and raise community awareness about the issue.

What action is being taken in the ACT?

The ACT Government has commenced several initiatives to safeguard older Canberrans against abuse, which include:

  • establishing the Older Persons ACT Legal Service (OPALS).
  • the roll-out of specific targeted training to government workers and ACT Public Servants to recognise and respond to elder abuse and increase capability to refer vulnerable older people to the correct supports, as well as recognise barriers that might inhibit someone from disclosing elder abuse.
  • an additional $80,000 grant funding annually to the ACT Seniors Grants Program, which funds community organisations to complete projects in addressing elder abuse and promoting supported decision-making for older persons.

Most recently, and somewhat to the dissatisfaction of the ACT legal community, the ACT Government introduced legislation which creates a specific offence for elder abuse. Some argue that this new law is a duplication of existing criminal offences and is too specific in its target and definitions, and will potentially allow perpetrators to walk free when the prosecution is unable to satisfy the standard of proof in these criminal cases.

How can MV help you?

  • We can prepare for you and give you advice about enduring powers of attorney and general powers of attorney in the ACT and NSW.
  • We can give you advice and guidance about your responsibilities and obligations as an attorney and/or guardian.
  • If you know someone who might be a victim of elder abuse, we can give you advice and assistance about getting that person the help they need, which might include applications to NCAT or ACAT to have new orders made, or have old orders reviewed or revoked.
  • If the victim has died and you believe the attorney illegally benefited from that person, we can help you undertake investigations for recovery from that person.
  • We can also help you make an application to the relevant Tribunal to have a guardian and/or attorney removed if they are in breach of their obligations and responsibilities under the law.

tanya.herbertson@mvlawyers.com.au
(02) 6279 4417