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International Day of Older Persons - supporting older Australians

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Today, on International Day of Older Persons, I announce a range of initiatives to better protect the rights of older Australians.

These initiatives are part of the Government’s $15 million election commitment to leading a national agenda to address elder abuse in Australia.

The abuse of older Australians can take many forms includi ng financial, physical, emotional, and sexual. For far too long, older Australians have had these actions diminish their ability to enjoy their lives with dignity and this has too often occurred in silence. Elder abuse is a complex and often hidden problem in Australia.

We must continue to better understand the problem and better support older Australians.

To this end, the Government will fund the creation of a Knowledge Hub which will be an online gateway raising awareness and providing information and training materials for the public and professionals about preventing and responding to elder abuse.

We will also support Elder Abuse Action Australia with $250,000 over two years to establish for the first time a national, elder abuse peak body. This will ensure that vulnerable older Australians are better supported through having their issues addressed and represented in a more coordinated and comprehensive manner. While much valuable work is done by States and Territories and organisations, it is fragmented with resources often difficult to find and obtain.

The new peak body will support the development of the Knowledge Hub, foster collaboration and the sharing of information to facilitate learning and innovation, and provide policy expertise to govern ments as we collaborate to develop programs to better support older Australians.

In order to better understand the nature, scale and scope of the abuse, the Government is providing $590,000 for the next stage of research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. The research will focus on the prevalence and nature of elder abuse in Australia and be done in collaboration with the National Ageing Research Institute, the Social Research Centre (ANU) and the Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW).

The Government will also support through sponsorship the fifth National Elder Abuse Conference in 2018 to further build engagement and support for a collaborative response to elder abuse.

Elder abuse is a problem that requires individuals, communities, governments, civil society and the private sector to work together to better protect older Australians.

That is why I established, with my State and Territory counterparts, an Elder Abuse working group to

consider the recommendations contained in the recent Australian Law Reform Commission report, Elder Abuse - A National Legal Response. This working group will report back to Ministers via the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council this year.

By 2055, the Australian population aged over 65 is expected to rise to 23 per cent, this is up from 15 percent in 2014-15. The Turnbull Government is working closely with communities and the aged care sector to further reform care and empower people. The focus is on increasing choices in home and residential care for older Australians, with safety and quality of life the top priorities.

Together we will build a national understanding of elder abuse, establish better ways to share information, and work in partnership to protect the rights of all older Australians.

1 October 2017