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November 17, 2011

Cuts Fear for Elder Aid (TAS. AUSTRALIA)

November 16, 2011

GOVERNMENT cutbacks mean measures to help prevent some of the state's most shocking cases of elder abuse would not go ahead, the Guardianship and Administration Board said.
The board's annual report, tabled in State Parliament yesterday, recounted a series of appalling cases of neglect, abuse and financial exploitation of older Tasmanians at the hands of their families.
But a helpline, advocacy and counselling service had been the victim of State Budget cuts, the report said.
The $2.6 million budgeted to the Statewide Elder Abuse Advisory Committee's four-year strategy had been cut to $1 million.
"The board continues to see examples of ruinous financial abuse of incapacitated elderly persons, who ought to be at an age when they can reap the rewards of hard work and prudent investments but instead are reduced to crippling poverty by the very people that they trusted the most," board president Anita Smith noted in her report.
Ms Smith said funding cuts meant it was taking longer to deal with applications for help and the board was unable to properly develop staff.
"The board is unlikely to be able to sustain current activities in the medium term without a significant revision of funding," the report said.
But Human Services Minister Cassy O'Connor said the Government's commitment to combating elder abuse had not diminished.
"While the original allocation of funding has been reduced, as I announced on Budget day, this has not lessened our determination to protect older Tasmanians from physical, financial and emotional abuse," she said.
"We remain committed to the implementation of the Elder Abuse Strategy and are continuing to work through key priorities to move this project forward, including a review of existing legislation to determine its effectiveness in protecting the rights of older Tasmanians.
"The Human Services Department is also developing practice guidelines for use by the whole sector, which will help identify elder abuse and prevent it."
CASE STUDIES
CASE 1: AN 87-year-old demented woman was admitted to an aged care facility after carers noted she was being neglected. When the Public Trustee took over her affairs, it was discovered the woman's daughter and granddaughter were living in her home, had disposed of her personal belongings and had emptied her banks accounts, while refusing to pay for her aged care fees.
CASE 2: THE GP of an incontinent and demented 79-year-old reported the man was suffering poor hygiene, wound infections and from having been left in the sun for too long. Investigations revealed his family had put pepper on an open wound and had given him nothing more than Panadol to treat his broken hip because they did not think it was serious.
CASE 3: AN elderly woman's daughter refused to allow health care workers access to her mother, at the same time she was emptying the woman's bank accounts of big sums of money. The older woman's health was deteriorating and she was losing weight, before she was placed in care, where she recovered.
CASE 4: A MAN used his power of attorney over his father's affairs to bilk his widowed mother out of half of the property. The man was made to turn over his mother's rightful share to her


SOURCE:      The Mercury, Australia
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