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Elder abuse report highlights Government failure

The release of a landmark report into elder abuse has highlighted the Weatherill Government’s failure to have effective reporting mechanisms in place to protect residents of Oakden from elder abuse.

Yesterday, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Australian Law Reform Commission released its long awaited report into Elder Abuse and recommended that there should be a robust process to report, investigate and monitor responses to serious incidents of abuse and neglect in aged care.

“Oakden is a case study of the Commissioner’s concerns. The most stunning failure through the decade of neglect and abuse at Oakden was how families’ reports of concerns at the care of their loved ones disappeared into a black-hole,” said Shadow Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

“Time and again concerned families of Oakden patients went to administrators and politicians who failed to act on well-founded concerns of the families of Oakden patients.

“When the Minister for Ageing introduces the Chair of the Commission at an Elder Abuse conference today she must commit the Weatherill Government to action, not more words.

“The Commission highlights that it’s not enough to ensure that abuse and neglect get reported – the reports need to be investigated and a response to incidents given by providers.

Recommendation 4-1 of the Law Reform Commission report would require aged care providers to notify an independent oversight body of:

(a) An allegation or a suspicion on reasonable grounds of a serious incident; and

(b) The outcome of an investigation into a serious incident, including findings and action taken.

“The Oakden case is repeatedly cited by the Commission.

“While around two-thirds of Oakden’s residents were aged care clients, the same issues arise for those in the state-funded mental health parts of the Oakden facility.

“Had such a system been in place at Oakden it may well have ensured an earlier, better response and protected Oakden residents from the decade of neglect and abuse that ensued.”