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November 28, 2010

Jail For Neglecting Grandparents (AUSTRALIA)


By political writer
LINDA SILMALIS
Sunday Telegraph
November 28, 2010

FAMILIES who neglect grandparents in their care could face up to five years' jail under an overhaul of the State's crime laws.
With an ageing population and increasing cases of elderly neglect, the State Government is amending its laws to help protect some of the State's most vulnerable citizens.
A person who fails to provide adequate food, clothing or shelter to an elderly person who is in their care, voluntarily or in a contractual arrangement, will face legal action. Under the existing Act, it is an offence to neglect "a wife, a servant or an insane person".
NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos said the Act had not been modified since the early 1900s.
He said the new laws would affect those who were deemed responsible for the care of an elderly citizen.
"More people than ever are relying on their children and other carers to look after their basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter," Mr Hatzistergos said.


"The new laws will guard against elder abuse and provide peace of mind for vulnerable seniors."
The maximum penalty will be five years' jail. The amendments will also remove the reference to an insane person, which is dated and disrespectful, Mr Hatzistergos said.
A NSW Advisory Committee on the Abuse of Older People report identified neglect as failing to give adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care or dental care.
"Neglect may involve the refusal to permit other people to provide appropriate care," it said.
"Examples include abandonment, non-provision of food, clothing or shelter, inappropriate use of medication, and poor hygiene or personal care. The abuser may be a family member, friend, neighbour, care worker, another nursing home resident or other person in close contact with the victim."
The plight of the elderly in NSW was exposed by The Sunday Telegraph in an investigation into two Sydney nursing homes in April.
The three-week undercover investigation revealed neglect was widespread: most families did not regularly visit their elderly relatives.
Many of the elderly were malnourished and went hungry every day, with carers failing to properly feed them.
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures show a rising number of people are appearing before the courts on charges relating to neglect or ill-treatment of someone in their care.
Last year, 66 people appeared before the courts - up from 28 just two years before.
The State Government estimates the proportion of people aged 65 years and older will double from 14 per cent to 22 per cent by 2030. For the first time in a decade there will be more people aged 65 and over than those under 14, according to a Department of Ageing and Disability Services report.
Police urge those who suspect elderly neglect to contact their local police station or the Commonwealth Carelink Centre on 1800 052 222.

SOURCE:     The Daily Telegraph, Australia
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