Australian Law Reform Commission launches elder abuse inquiry
March 3, 2016
BY Kevin Zakreski
The Australian Law Reform Commission has just embarked on a major inquiry into elder abuse. The inquiry is in response to a reference from Australia’s attorney general. Its terms of reference direct the ALRC to consider:
- existing Commonwealth laws and frameworks which seek to safeguard and protect older persons from misuse or abuse by formal and informal carers, supporters, representatives and others. These should include, but not be limited to, regulation of:
- financial institutions,
- social security,
- living and care arrangements, and
- the interaction and relationship of these laws with state and territory laws.
The terms of reference also direct the ALRC to “have regard to other inquiries and reviews that it considers relevant, including”:
- the recommendations of ALRC Report 124, Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws (2014);
- the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs report on violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability (2015); and
- the recommendations of the Commonwealth House of Representatives report, Older People and the Law (2007).
In addition, the ALRC “should specifically consider best practice laws, as well as legal frameworks including, but not limited, to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Aged Cared framework, which”:
- promote and support older people’s ability to participate equally in their community and access services and advice;
- protect against misuse or advantage taken of informal and formal supporter or representative roles, including:
- formal appointment of supporters or representatives,
- informal appointment of support and representative roles (e.g., family members),
- prevention of abuse,
- mitigation of abuse,
- reporting of abuse,
- remedies for abuse,
- penalties for abuse; and
- provide specific protections against elder abuse.
The publications plan for the inquiry includes “an Issues Paper, followed by a Discussion Paper, and will call for submissions when each one is released.” The ALRC’s final report is due by May 2017.