More Choices for a Longer Life—protecting
The Budget contains a range of measures under the umbrella
of the ‘More Choices for a Longer Life’ package aimed at ‘maximis[ing] the
opportunities that a longer life brings’. The package recognises:
Australians are now expected to live almost 10 years longer
than they were 50 years ago, with our life expectancy now fifth highest in the
OECD. This is a remarkable achievement. To make the most of the opportunities a
longer life provides, Australians need to prepare early to be healthy,
independent, connected and safe.
As part of this suite of measures, the Government has
committed $22.0 million over five years from 2017–18 to respond to elder abuse
and protect the rights of older Australians. This element of the package comes
within the responsibility of the Attorney-General’s portfolio.
The total proposed expenditure on the measure is set out in Table
Table 1: Expense measure: More choices for a Longer Life – protecting older
| Expense ($m)
Source: Australian Government, Portfolio
budget statements 2018–19: budget related paper no. 1.2: Attorney-General’s
Portfolio, p. 13.
Elder Abuse Report
The ‘More Choices for a Longer Life – protecting older
Australians’ measure responds to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC)
report Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response (Elder Abuse Report).
The terms of reference for the inquiry provided by then Attorney-General
Senator Brandis asked the ALRC to consider:
existing Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks which protect
elder persons from abuse by carers, supporters and representatives, including
regulation of financial institutions, superannuation, social security, health
and living and care arrangements and
the interaction and relationship of relevant Commonwealth laws
with state and territory laws.
The Elder Abuse Report made 43 recommendations aimed
at safeguarding ‘older people from abuse and support[ing] their choices and
wishes’. These recommendations included:
developing, in conjunction with the states and territories, a
National Plan to combat elder abuse that will promote the autonomy of older
people, address ageism, achieve national consistency and safeguard at-risk
conducting a national prevalence study of elder abuse to build an
evidence base ahead of formulating policy
establishing a national online register of enduring documents,
and court and tribunal appointments of guardians and financial administrators
developing national, best practice guidelines for legal
practitioners in relation to the preparation and execution of wills to cover
matters such as elder abuse.
Policies under the ‘More Choices
for a Longer Life – protecting older Australians’ measure
The $22.0 million funding provided to the Attorney-General’s
Department will support:
expansion and evaluation of support service trials such as:
elder abuse units in legal services
counselling and mediation services
an Elder Abuse Knowledge Hub
a National Prevalence Research scoping study and
development of a National Plan to address elder abuse.
The funding provided in the 2018–19 Budget builds on $15
million committed by the Government in the 2016–17 MYEFO in fulfilment of a
2016 election commitment.
Knowledge Hub and National Prevalence Research scoping study
The proposed Elder Abuse Knowledge Hub 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’.
The National Prevalence Research scoping study, being conducted by the
Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), seeks to ‘better understand the
nature, scale and scope’ of elder abuse in Australia.
National Plan to address elder
On 20 February 2018, the Attorney-General, Christian Porter,
announced that a National Plan would be developed in conjunction with state and
territories Attorneys-General. Mr Porter stated that,
in line with the recommendations of the Elder Abuse Report, the National
Plan will have five goals:
promoting the autonomy and agency of older people
addressing ageism and promoting community understanding of elder
achieving national consistency
safeguarding at-risk older people and improving responses
building the evidence basis.
Mr Porter also noted that the study conducted by the AIFS
would provide the evidence base to ensure that the National Plan provides
appropriate frameworks and strategies to respond to elder abuse.
The Elder Abuse Report provides examples of the types
of services that may be evaluated under the support service trials. These
include health-justice partnerships where legal services are embedded in a
health service, which can involve locating a lawyer at a health service or
hospital, and training health professionals on legal issues. Such partnerships are being
trialled or developed in a number of places around Australia, including through
Townsville Community Legal Services and Townsville Hospital, and in Caulfield
and Footscray in Victoria.
National Register for Enduring
Powers of Attorney
The Budget papers advise that the Government ‘will work with
the states and territories to develop a nationally consistent legal framework
and establish a National Register of Enduring Powers of Attorney’.
The expenditure required for this process has been accounted for in the Budget,
but has not been published as the outcome of negotiations with the states and
territories is still pending.
The commitment to create this register responds to the Elder
Abuse Report’s recommendation. The ALRC accepted that
abuse of enduring documents was occurring and ‘the extent of the powers granted
by enduring documents means that any abuse is often relatively serious in its
financial impact’. Accordingly, the ALRC
recommended a register where only one enduring document of a particular type
(financial or personal) could be registered at a time so that documents are
properly revoked and revoked instruments cannot be used.
The Law Council of Australia (LCA) welcomed the budget
measure, commenting that it had ‘long urged’ the Government to develop a
National Plan and a National Prevalence study on elder abuse.
National Seniors Australia welcomed the ‘commitment
to tackling the issue of elder abuse’, but stated that it ‘will be looking for
ongoing funding from the Federal Government for specialist elder abuse support
services beyond the trial period’.
COTA Australia stated:
We welcome additional funds for elder abuse initiatives and
the Federal Government taking leadership in the development of a national
framework and approach, including a national register of enduring powers of
Australian Government, Budget
strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2018–19, p. 1-24.
Australian Government, More
Choices for a Longer Life, Budget 2018 fact sheet, 2018.
Australian Government, Budget
measures: budget paper no. 2: 2018–19, p. 76.
paper no. 1, op. cit., p. 1-26; Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC),
- a national legal response: final report, 131, ALRC, Sydney, May 2017.
Ibid., p. 5.
Ibid., p. 28.
Ibid., p. 9.
Ibid., p. 12.
Ibid., p. 14.
paper no. 2, op. cit., pp. 76-77.
Australian Government, Mid-year
economic and fiscal outlook 2016–17, p. 136; Budget
paper no. 2, op. cit., p. 77; Liberal Party of Australia, Election
2016: Protecting the rights of older Australians, Coalition policy
document, Election 2016.
G Brandis (Attorney-General), International
Day of Older Persons - supporting older Australians, media release, 1
October 2017; see also Liberal Party of Australia, Election
2016: Protecting the rights of older Australians, op. cit.
C Porter (Attorney-General), National
plan to address elder abuse, media release, 20 February 2018.
abuse, op. cit., p. 337.
Ibid., p. 339.
paper no. 2, op. cit., p. 77.
abuse, op. cit., p. 12.
Ibid., pp 181-182.
Ibid., p. 182.
Law Council of Australia, Budget
boost to counter elder abuse welcome, but greater funding required to end
justice crisis, media release, 8 May 2018.
National Seniors Australia (NSA), ‘The highs and lows of the "Baby Boomer budget"’, NSA website.
COTA Australia, Federal
Budget 2018 – welcome commitment to better planning for an ageing population
and aged care, media release, 8 May 2018.
All online articles accessed May 2018.
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