NSW Law Society to protect aged Australians from financial abuse, harassment and bullying

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An elderly man takes part in a rally to commemorate International Workers' Day, or Labour Day, in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
An elderly man takes part in a rally to commemorate International Workers' Day, or Labour Day, in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, May 1, 2014. Reuters/Vasily Fedosenko

The New South Wales Law Society has placed combating elder abuse on top of its agenda. The body is organising a working party to contribute to national efforts to thwart the mistreatment of older Aussies.

Pauline Wright, the NSW Law Society president, unveiled plans to establish a group that would join the national elder abuse plan. The working group would be composed of lawyers with their own expertise.

The participating lawyers would investigate legal aspects of the mistreatment of the elderly, which would also cover financial abuse. “Heightened concerns about the alleged abuse, including financial abuse, of aged people in the retirement village sector and aged care sector have brought to the fore increased awareness of the need for more effective protection mechanisms for aged Australians,” Lawyers Weekly quotes Wright as saying.

Combating elder abuse

Last month, a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) launched and prompted law societies across Australia to commit to initiatives that would draw attention to the cause. The report, titled “Elder Abuse: A National Legal Response,” made 43 recommendations that cover succession planning, screening of prospective care workers and residential aged care.

The NSW Law Society’s plans seek to feed into a steady national plan for reform, intervention and prevention strategies. Wright suggested private sector’s backing would also boost the national plan.

Furthermore, the body’s working party would also give attention to factors that affect older Indigenous Australians. Another focus is to see how support for those living in rural and regional Australia could be improved.

According to Wright, the formation of the working party is their response to the immediate need for older people to be protected. Older Australians, she said, must obtain the protection they need not only from financial abuse but also from harassment and bullying.

As the recent ALRC’s findings imply, a national approach with adequate resourcing and is supported by the private sector must push through to guarantee measures are developed and implemented in the future. She cited Australia’s ageing population as well as the rising number of Aussies living with dementia as urgent reasons for such actions.

This week, a footage obtained in Ottawa, Canada shows a personal support worker becoming frustrated as he changed an elderly man’s diaper, yanking him back and forward and pushing him down. The support worker named Jie Xiao was arrested by police on the spot, according to Yahoo.

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