As the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety continues, the Coalition has launched a free to call helpline for elderly Australians to report instances of abuse, as part of a four-year national plan to combat the issue.
Attorney-General Christian Porter announced the news on Tuesday, stating that the national hotline will enable older people, living anywhere in Australia, to discuss potential or actual incidences of elder abuse.
“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,” Porter said.
“Getting assistance or advice is an important step in empowering older Australians to address issues affecting them.”
However, advocacy body National Seniors said that while the action announced by the Morrison administration this week is a “positive step”, it does not go far enough in addressing the “shameful community issue” of elder abuse, instead placing too much emphasis on further research.
Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said: “The government’s announcement to introduce a free national hotline to report elder abuse is a positive step, provided people are aware of it. It’s important that the federal government provides funding to educate people about where they can complain about elder abuse.
“What we need is more immediate and direct national action to provide appropriate protection for vulnerable older Australians. National seniors is always be supportive of good research but in this case the priority is action.”
In addition to the helpline, Porter also revealed that the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians will also include $18 million in funding over four years for national trials of frontline services designed to support older people who are victims of abuse.
“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,” the Attorney-General added. “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. 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.”