Stronger action on Power of Attorney laws needed to protect older Australians from elder abuse

Federal, state and territory governments must take stronger action to stop the scourge of elder abuse, including urgently reforming Power of Attorney laws, says COTA Australia, the nation’s leading advocacy organisation for older people.

The call comes as the world marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Officer Patricia Sparrow says each state and territory has its own, often weak, Power of Attorney laws which is contributing to unacceptably high rates of elder abuse.

“Our Power of Attorney laws are leaving too many older people vulnerable to abuse,” Ms Sparrow says.

“We need to see our politicians at all levels work together to deliver strong, nationally consistent Power of Attorney laws.

“We’ve all heard stories of unscrupulous relatives or acquaintances using our inconsistent and weak Power of Attorney laws to get away with abusing vulnerable older Australians. “Everyone recognises the problem, but consecutive governments at all levels have dragged their heels on action for years.

“Elder abuse takes many forms and we need serious action on many fronts, but fixing the Power of Attorney laws is one obvious and urgent step we need to take.”

Ms Sparrow says World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an opportune time for action.

“World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an important time to reflect on our country’s problems with elder abuse and ageism,” Ms Sparrow says.

“Systemic issues like ageism mean all too often elder abuse is overlooked or dismissed, which is why World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is so important. It helps bring the issue to the forefront of people’s minds and provides practical tools to address the scourge of abuse facing too many older Australians.

“If it prompts just one person to recognise the signs of elder abuse and do something about it, it’s worthwhile.”

Media contact: Alana Mew, 0419 929 722