COTA SA welcomes new Bill to be introduced to combat elder abuse

Media Release 20 June 2018

COTA SA, the peak advocacy body for older South Australians, welcomes the Government's Office for the Ageing's (Adult Safeguarding) Amendment Bill 2018 which is due to be tabled in the Upper House today.

COTA SA Chief Executive, Jane Mussared, said the organisation applauded Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade's urgency in introducing the Bill within 100 days and, in doing so, leading Australia in addressing the gaps in the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.

"We are pleased to see such urgent, concrete and significant steps taken to protect vulnerable adults through this Bill, addressing existing shortcomings in the system to combat elder abuse," said Ms Mussared.

"We like the principles and particularly support the emphasis on safeguarding being offered within the overriding right of all adults to make their own decisions.

"Everyone has the right to feel safe and be protected from abuse - be it financial, emotional or physical - and recent events, including those experienced at Oakden, have shown that there have been shortcomings in upholding this basic human right to older South Australians. We must act urgently to change this."

If passed, South Australia will become the first jurisdiction to introduce legislation to establish an adult safeguarding unit, leading the way for the rest of the country to build frameworks that combat elder abuse.

"We recognise that there is substantial non-partisan support right now for a Bill which tackles this issue head on and we're very pleased that the South Australian Government has chosen to lead the country in introducing adult safeguarding legislation and establishing an Adult Safeguarding Unit," said Ms Mussared.

"We have provided feedback to assist the Government in developing a final bill that is effective, relevant and reliable, including engaging vulnerable older people in the development of the Charter of the Rights and Freedoms of Vulnerable Adults.

"It's our strong belief that the Act needs to incorporate independent review capabilities. We support the direct accountability for the Unit's work to the Minister and the unequivocal responsibility therefore of the Minister.

"We also recommend the Act includes the requirement for an external committee to ensure the transparent operation of the Act and the Unit, to guide and support its establishment. That Committee should be chaired independently of government and include strong consumer involvement.

"COTA SA is looking forward to working with the Government on the detailed implementation of the Act once it has passed through Parliament. It will be important that the new agency is well resourced and that it is staffed by people with outstanding capabilities in undertaking what will often be very complex and sensitive work."

COTA SA is an older people's movement run by, for and with older people. COTA SA represents the aspirations, interests and rights of 633,000 older South Australians.

Further information about COTA SA can be found at www.cotasa.org.au.

For all interview requests please contact:

Amber Fromm - amber@communikate.net.au | 0400 324 220
Bec Tape - rtape@communikate.net.au | 0438 806 983

PLEASE NOTE: Jane Mussared is attending the tabling of the Bill and is available for comment and interviews at Parliament House afterwards. Alternatively, please get in touch to arrange a suitable time.

Download a copy of the media release