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QLS: Funding needed to protect disadvantaged older Australians

Queensland Law Society is appealing to the next Federal Government to dedicate increased funding to battle the growing crisis of elder abuse of disadvantaged people – particularly in regional, rural and remote areas.

The Society, in its federal election 2022 Call to Parties Statement, said incidence of elder abuse was on the rise and increased funding to community legal centres delivering services was necessary to assist people suffering elder abuse across varied areas.

“The incidence of elder abuse and its direct impacts upon a growing cohort of the community requires attention,” the QLS statement says. “The recently released National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study highlights that 15% of the population aged 65 and over living in the community have experienced elder abuse in the previous 12 months.

“This is in addition to incidents of elder abuse in various institutional settings such as aged care facilities, which were partially considered by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.”

QLS has written to all of the federal political parties taking part in the 21 May election and asked them to commit to a myriad of programs and funding to assist elderly Australians coping with abuse.

The Call to Parties Statement, prepared by the QLS legal policy team in consultation with QLS legal policy committees, canvasses the views of the political parties and candidates on the issues perceived to be critical to the effective delivery of justice to the Australian community.

The QLS also calls on federal parties for commitments to:

  • support a new international Convention on the Rights of Older Persons
  • urgently implement the outstanding items in the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians (Elder Abuse) 2019-2023
  • work with the states and territories to develop more nationally consistent laws which contribute to the prevention of elder abuse, including relating to enduring powers of attorney (EPAs) and a model enduring document, recognising that this should occur prior to the proposed EPA register, in accordance with the Australian Law Reform Commission final report, ‘Elder Abuse – A national legal response’ (ALRC report)
  • provide timeframes for implementation of all remaining recommendations of the ALRC report
  • implement the recommendations of the ALRC report on ‘Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws’ relating to a stronger supported decision-making approach in both the aged care and disability spaces
  • develop standardised national capacity assessment guidelines resulting from a multi-disciplinary approach combining input from legal practitioners, consumers, medical and health professionals
  • implement the remaining recommendations set out in the report by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, in particular the need to take immediate action with respect to the abuses, harm and neglect occurring in residential aged-care facilities, including the proper regulation, mandatory reporting and adequate training for staff, with a view to minimising and substantially reducing the use of restrictive practices in this sector, along with a new rights-based Aged Care Act
  • implement the proposed nationally‐consistent centralised pre‐employment screening check with a register of cleared and excluded workers that has appropriate privacy safeguards
  • increase funding to community legal centres delivering services to people suffering elder abuse across varied areas, particularly regional, rural and remote, as well as discrete funding for legal advice and representation in guardianship matters across all jurisdictions.
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