Abuse of older people: a national plan
ON 19 March 2019, the Federal Government announced the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians. The plan aims to combat abuse and assist older people who experience emotional, physical, or financial vulnerabilities.
A major component of this initiative, is the elder abuse free call number – 1800 ELDERH (1800 353 374). This number is now active.
This number will connect callers from anywhere in Australia to a state and territory helpline to discuss potential or actual abuse of older people and receive the necessary information or referral.
This is an information and referral service. Operating hours vary from state to state. If you require immediate assistance in an emergency or life threatening situation ring Triple Zero 000.
In addition to the phone line, the Australian Government will also provide $18 million over the next four years for national trials of frontline services. These services will be designed to assist vulnerable older people and at risk older people. The services will include specialised legal assistance to older people, as well as working with older people and their families to identify underlying problems driving abuse.
As reported in THE VOICE, in December 2018, the NSW Government announced an independent Ageing and Disability Commissioner. The Commissioner will start on 1 July 2019 and will investigate the abuse of older people, and adults with disability “in home and community settings”. This excludes nursing homes. The scheme will not take complaints that can be dealt with be the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission or the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The Commissioner will also work closely with the new NSW Police Specialist Elder Abuse Officers, who will investigate matters of abuse that involve a criminal offence. Recent plans to address abuse of older people on both a federal and state level are promising signs to see.
Recruitment for the position of Commissioner is under way.
THE VOICE will update readers on any progress in relation to new initiatives that are set to roll out later this year.
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