Australian Law Reform Commission:  Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s report, Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response, was launched on Thursday 15 June 2017, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2017.

22 Jun 2017

The Attorney-General of Australia asked the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in February 2016 to inquire into Commonwealth legal frameworks and how they interact with State/Territory laws to better protect the rights of older Australians from abuse. 

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s report has 43 recommendations for law reform. The recommendations cover both Commonwealth and State/Territory laws and a number of portfolios and are now being considered by the Australian Government.

ACSA’s submission highlighted that elder abuse is a significant public policy issue that has devastating consequences for older people.  At the very core of elder abuse is the loss of dignity and basic human rights.  Combating ageism across our society is an integral component in the prevention and recognition of elder abuse.

While ACSA supports many of the recommendations including the development of a national plan to combat elder abuse and a national prevalence study. 

The ALRC report’s recommendations on aged care focus heavily on legal issues including regulation, reporting and monitoring authorities.

Aged care is already a heavily regulated industry. However, reporting in and of itself doesn’t ensure better protection. Before creating new regulations we need clear evidence that this would provide additional protection whether this be in aged care or in the community where the majority of abuse occurs.

As a result of the recent terrible occurrences in Oakden in SA, the Commonwealth Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt is undertaking a review of the aged care regulatory system and processes. The ALRC recommendations need to be considered as part of that process.

We need to ensure that all of the pieces fit together to improve outcomes for older people and we don’t create unintended consequences as a result of more regulation and reporting without achieving improved protections.

The intent behind these recommendations would be more effectively addressed through the Government’s existing quality and accreditation framework and the processes to develop a single quality framework.

ACSA will monitor consideration of the recommendations and provide members with updates and information when they become available and participate in relevant consultation arrangements.

ACSA’s submissions to the ALRC and November 2016 Elder Abuse Position Paper can be found on our website at