The Federal Government has announced a $2 million boost to help the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) expand its work in tackling elder abuse.
OPAN is a free national service set up last year to help older people stand up for their aged care rights, both in residential aged care homes as well as in the community.
The funding comes as it was revealed that South Australians were reporting an average of six cases of elder abuse or people at risk of abuse every day.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said OPAN’s figures just released had reinforced the importance of the funding.
“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,” Mr Wyatt said.
“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.”
Mr Wyatt said the extra funding would allow OPAN to continue and expand its vital work to support people experiencing elder abuse.
“This new funding builds on the $1 million provided to OPAN to help combat elder abuse over the past year,” Mr Wyatt said.
“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 the special needs of rural and remote populations.
Mr Wyatt said OPAN reported the more their services became known, the more people who often felt they had nowhere to turn to for help contacted them.
“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.”
The federal and state Council of 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.
Seniors, their families or carers in need of advocacy should go to the OPAN website or call 1800 700 600.