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November 15, 2011

WA Labor's Paper Offers Real Solutions to Elder Abuse (AUSTRALIA)

WA Labor's paper offers real solutions to elder abuse
09 November 2011

Around 12,500 elderly Western Australians could be abused this year, Labor Leader Eric Ripper said at today's launch of WA Labor's "Behind Closed Doors" discussion paper into elder abuse.
Mr Ripper said this figure could be even higher as many cases of elder abuse went unreported and research showed the number of older people abused in the State will double in the next 20 years if nothing is done.
 "This is an alarming statistic and extremely concerning given the majority of the abuse was committed by adult children to their elderly parents," Mr Ripper said.
"Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse and generally involved a family member seeking to transfer financial or real property. Research showed 84 per cent of people experiencing financial abuse also experienced psychological abuse."
Mr Ripper said the considerable increases to the cost of living under the Barnett Government and the aging population were making seniors more susceptible to abuse.
"Many seniors are on fixed incomes and since 2008, water prices increased by 45 per cent, electricity by 57 per cent and gas by more than 40 per cent," he said
"This makes seniors more vulnerable to abuse as they may try to save on living costs by moving in with their adult children or by transferring property into their children's name.
"Policies need to be put in place to help seniors who find themselves in the grim situation of being abused by their adult children and prevent this form of abuse from occurring in the first place."
Shadow Seniors Minister Sue Ellery said Labor's discussion paper made a raft of recommendations including a public education campaign to raise awareness of elder abuse, and the establishment of a lead agency to be the policy leader in the area.
"A lack of police training in the area was also identified and the report recommended further training to ensure WA police were well-equipped to be able to identify elder abuse," Ms Ellery said.
Other options for action included:
Funding for legal services;
  • Services in rural and remote Western Australia;
  • An option for dispute resolution to resolve conflict without court action;
  • More power given to the Office of the Public Advocate;
  • The development of an elder abuse resource guide;
  • A register for Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) that includes random auditing of EPAs;
  • An Elder Justice Act to protect the independence of seniors;
  • A formal reporting arrangement for banks, similar to that of suspicious transactions to ensure financial abuse does not go unnoticed; and
  • Reform of Family Agreements, as the Supreme Court of WA is currently the only option for legal redress involving large civil actions.
Ms Ellery said the ageing population, increased financial pressures and the increased number of Western Australians diagnosed with dementia heightened the potential for elder abuse.
"We need to ensure the benefits of the state's resources boom are invested to benefit vulnerable Western Australians and one way of doing this is to take action to protect the elderly from this shameful abuse," she said.
"I invite anyone interested in this policy area to provide us with feedback. For a copy of the paper or assistance for possible victims of elder abuse, please contact my office on 9312 1566."

SOURCE:    WA.ALP.ORG, Australia

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