ELDER ABUSE: The Federal Government has released its highly anticipated National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians.
ELDER ABUSE: The Federal Government has released its highly anticipated National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians. johnnyscriv

Government launches new plan to protect elders from abuse

AUSTRALIA has its first National Plan to combat abuse of older Australians - and victims have a new hotline to help them.

Attorney-General Christian Porter launched the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians today and announced the first key initiatives.

"Our population is ageing and the release of this National Plan reflects the commitment of our nation's governments at both the federal and state/territory level to work together to ensure that older Australians can feel and be safe and supported in their later years," Mr Porter said.

By 2056 it is estimated that 22 per cent of Australians or 8.7 million people will be aged over 65, up from 15 per in 2016.

"There's no doubt that a key benchmark of any society is how it treats and protects its older citizens, particularly those who may be vulnerable to abuse in whatever form it takes, emotional, physical or financial," Mr Porter said.

"This National Plan provides a framework for coordinated action across federal and state/territory governments over the next four years and reflects the commitment of all governments to act now to support older Australians dealing with elder abuse."

The Attorney-General also officially launched a new national, elder abuse free call number.

1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) will connect callers from anywhere in Australia to a state or territory phone line where they can discuss potential or actual elder abuse and get the information and referrals they need to protect themselves.

"Getting assistance or advice is an important step in empowering older Australians to address issues affecting them," Mr Porter said.

He also announced the Morrison Government would provide $18 million over four years for national trials of frontline services designed to support older people who are victims of abuse.

"This funding under the More Choices for a Longer Life package will support the establishment of three types of specialist support services: specialist elder abuse units, health-justice partnerships and case management and mediation services," the Attorney-General said.

Every state and territory will have at least one trial site starting before the end of June this year.

"We have all heard through media or directly, stories of vulnerable older people being subject to financial abuse, all too often by family members," Mr Porter said.

"The Morrison Government is determined to do all it can to protect older people at risk of, or experiencing such abuse and I am particularly pleased that my state/territory colleagues are demonstrating a similar level of commitment by backing the National Plan."

The National Plan launched today was a key recommendation of the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) Report: Elder Abuse - a National Legal Response, which highlighted examples of serious physical abuse, financial abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people.

The plan, its companion documents and further information on elder abuse initiatives are available at www.ag.gov.au/ElderAbuse.