Elder Abuse and the Law - Mandatory Reporting
There are no mandatory reporting laws for elder abuse anywhere in Australia.
As from the 1st July 2007 Compulsory Reporting of certain assaults, inflicted on a recipient of residential care was imposed on providers of Australian Government subsidised Aged Care homes. Amendments to the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) are designed to increase safeguards for residents of Aged Care homes. The Act requires approved Aged Care providers to report unlawful sexual contact or unreasonable use of force on a resident of an Australian Government subsidised Aged Care home.
As mentioned in the freedom of choice section, for other incidents of alleged abuse (financial, psychological, social and or neglect), the law assumes adults can make their own decisions, about whether or not to do anything about the abuse that they experience.
The law does not regard an older person differently from any other adult. Older people have the right to access all the current laws available. If you are supporting an older person who is experiencing abuse your role will involve assisting people through intervention strategies and the steps taken will ensure their full rights are upheld eg confidentiality and freedom of choice.
In circumstances where people are unable to make their own decisions, full consideration of intervention strategies needs to be undertaken prior to any actions. Capacity is a medical issue and must be determined by a doctor. A written report by a General Practitioner, psychogeriatrician or geriatrician should be obtained by the supervisor and kept on file. This helps to show that you have taken steps to meet your duty of care. In situations such as these, your supervisor might consider applying to the Guardianship Board.
The Aged Care Act 1997 can be viewed at www.health.gov.au.