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Older people's legal rights on govt agenda

Older people's legal rights on govt agenda

Older people may have better access to legal services if the federal government’s plans for older people in the law, tabled yesterday in Parliament, are successful.

OLDER people may have better access to legal services and will have clearly defined powers of attorney rights if the federal government’s plans for older people in the law, tabled yesterday in Parliament, are successful.

Attorney General Robert McClelland has tabled the government’s response to the House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s report on older people and the law.

The report makes 48 recommendations addressing legal issues facing older Australians, including fraud and financial abuse, powers of attorney, advance health care planning, guardianship and administration, and barriers to accessing legal services.

The various states’ responses to older people and the law are also targeted in the Committee’s recommendations. The federal government said it would bring these recommendations to the relevant body in each jurisdiction.

The Committee was charged with investigating whether legislative regimes were adequately addressing the legal needs of older people in 2006, by then Attorney General Philip Ruddock.

Committee chairman, Peter Slipper MP, said of financial abuse of older Australians at the time: “Studies have suggested that older people are less likely to take legal action where abuse has occurred.”

Slipper said the Committee would focus on those aged 65 and over in its inquiry.

“At present, 12 per cent of the Australian population is aged 65 and over, and by 2030 this is estimated to rise to more than 22 per cent,” he said.

“There is a real need to ensure that legal concerns of this group are adequately addressed.”

The report can be found at www.aph.gov.au



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