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Australia elderly abuse inquiry leads way: NZ told to follow suit

Australia elderly abuse inquiry leads way: NZ told to follow suit

Australia elderly abuse inquiry leads way: NZ told to follow suit

As Australia plans to open an elderly abuse inquiry, NZ campaigners want their leaders to follow suit.

Australia has announced a royal commission into the nation’s scandal-hit aged-care sector, and New Zealand support groups want their authorities to do the same.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned Australians to brace for “bruising” evidence of abuse and negligence following the elderly abuse inquiry.

The nation is still digesting the recommendations of a royal commission that spent almost five years investigating the depraved treatment of children in institutions.

Now residential and in-home aged care will be scrutinised. Morrison said, “Our loved ones – some of them – have experienced some real mistreatment.

“I think that’s going to be tough for us all to deal with,” he added. “But you can’t walk past it.”

Community leaders say the true scale of elder abuse is unknown but anecdotal evidence has suggested it is a dark and deep-rooted problem.

“It is a scandal beyond belief,” says Reverend Bill Crews from Australia’s Uniting Church.

An Elder Abuse Helpline was set up in New South Wales in 2013, and state lawmakers have conducted their own investigation into the mistreatment of senior citizens.

Victims have also shared their stories with another inquiry in Western Australia.

Ian Henchske, chief advocate for independent lobby group National Seniors Australia, says a lot of elder abuse “takes place within the family”.

He said less than 20% of elder abuse is reported to an authority, and that greed was mostly to blame.

In New Zealand, Grey Power – a support group for the elderly – says the Government must follow Australia’s lead and set up a new aged-care watchdog.

Both Labour and the Green Party, who are partners in the coalition government with NZ First, went into the election with a policy to set up such an organisation.

Labour’s David Clark, now Health Minister, said an Aged Care Commissioner would be provided for in the Government’s first Budget. However, that didn’t happen.

Consumer and health advocates are also pressing for the Government to update voluntary aged-care standards and make them mandatory.

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