President of the Law Society of NSW, Pauline Wright, has announced her plans to establish a working party that will help contribute to a national elder abuse plan.
The group will be made up of lawyers with varied expertise and be tasked with investigating legal aspects of the mistreatment of older Australians, including financial abuse.
“Heightened concerns about the alleged abuse, including financial abuse, of aged people in the retirement village sector and aged care sector have brought to the fore increased awareness of the need for more effective protection mechanisms for aged Australians,” Ms Wright said.
Following the launch of a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) last month, law societies across the country have committed to a number of initiatives to help draw attention to the cause.
The report, entitled Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response, made 43 recommendations covering residential aged care, the screening of prospective care workers and succession planning.
The efforts of the Law Society of NSW are intended to feed into a consistent national plan for reform, prevention and intervention strategies. Ms Wright suggested that a national plan would also need the backing of the private sector.
The Law Society indicated that its working party would also give special attention to the unique factors affecting older Indigenous Australians. How to improve support for those living in rural and regional Australia would also be a focus.
Ms Wright said that the formation of the working party is the Law Society’s response to the urgent need for older people to be protected from not only financial abuse, but also bullying and harassment.
“As indicated by the ALRC’s findings, a national approach backed with sufficient resourcing and supported by the private sector is needed to ensure measures are not only developed but implemented in the future.
“The rise in Australia’s ageing population and the increasing number of Australians living with dementia means there is an urgent imperative for such action,” she said.