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Succession and elder law Commonwealth enquiries and legislative developments

Aged care

Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Financial Transparency) Bill 2020 (Cth) was referred on 18 June 2020 to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee for report by 23 November 2020.

The Bill seeks to amend the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) by implementing improvements to the disclosures requirements of financial and operating costs of aged-care facilities through annual financial transparency reports. See information on the current status of this Bill.

Aged people – disability, restrictive practices, crime and COVID-19

According to the Australian Network of Disability, 1.9 million people aged 65 and over represent 44.5% (near half) of all people with disability.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is concerned with the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people and has announced it will conduct a public hearing in Sydney from 18-21 August. The object of the hearing is to investigate the experiences of people with disability during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In line with the public health issues caused by COVID-19, the hearings will be held via video and livestreaming. See details.

The Royal Commission has also published three separate issues papers addressing matters impacting our aged community.

One examines the attitudes of the community to people with disability and how their rights are impacted. Submissions on this topic officially closed on 31 July but are currently still being accepted. More details.

The second paper, published on 26 May, examines the impact on people with disabilities of laws, policies and practices related to ‘restrictive practices’. This enquiry dovetails with the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability enquiry. Relevantly, the definition of violence and abuse includes restrictive practices. Submissions are due by 28 August 2020. More details.

The third issues paper identifies that people with cognitive disabilities are overrepresented in terms of those charged with or accused of criminal offences, as well as being  disproportionately victims of abuse or violent criminal conduct. That issues paper raises nine questions on which the Royal Commission is seeking submissions. More details.

Christine Smyth is a former President of Queensland Law Society, a QLS Accredited Specialist (succession law) – Qld, a QLS Senior Counsellor and Consultant at Robbins Watson Solicitors. She is an executive committee member of the Law Council Australia – Legal Practice Section, Court Appointed Estate Account Assessor, and member of the Proctor Editorial Committee, STEP and Deputy Chair of the STEP Mental Capacity SIG Committee.

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