Vulnerable Adults Protection

Protection of vulnerable people is a fundamental responsibility of government. The current laws and systems in South Australia are wholly inadequate to afford vulnerable people over the age of 18, even the most basic of protections.

In 2011 the State Government of South Australia received the “Closing the Gaps Report” (published by the South Australian Office of the Public Advocate, in collaboration with the University of South Australia). This key report made strong recommendations for the protection from abuse of all vulnerable adult South Australians, particularly the elderly. 

The foundation recommendations of the “Closing the Gaps Report” was emphatically reinforced by the subsequent South Australian Parliamentary Enquiry: Final Report of the Joint Committee on Matters Relating to Elder Abuse, of 31 October 2017 and was ostensibly echoed by the Australian Law Reform Commission report ‘Elder Abuse- A National Legal Response’ of May 2017.

The Council on the Ageing (COTA) in its recent election manifest of January 2018, has also endorsed the “Closing the Gaps Report”as the authoritative plan.

Despite the horrific failings at the Oakden facility, the unacceptable increasing rate of reported abuse of the elderly and the recent reports calling for immediate implementation of the key recommendations of the “Closing the Gaps Report”, the State Labor Government has failed to act to prevent and reduce harm. We say this lack of accountability and action is wholly unacceptable.

SA-BEST will act to provide a comprehensive policy strategy to promote both the wellbeing and protection of vulnerable adult South Australians. In addition to strong whistle-blower protections and in conjunction with SA-BEST’s related broader Seniors Policy aimed at promoting the independence of older South Australians, SA-BEST will also implement protective measures without further delay for the benefit and protection of all vulnerable South Australian adults. Our reform will protect the elderly as well as vulnerable disabled adults over the age of 18 years.

These measures should receive bi-partisan support and should not be compromised by politics of the day.

Consistent with the key recommendations of the “Closing the Gaps Report’’, SA-BEST will:

  • Introduce legislation to provide for a South Australian Vulnerable Adult Protection Act to provide for the protection of the elderly and other vulnerable adults from neglect, psychological, physical, sexual and or financial abuse (this will involve reform of associated legislation);

  • Establish an Independent South Australian Vulnerable Adult Protection Unit to take the lead for investigating, intervening and co-ordinating interagency responsibilities for protective measures;

  • Ensure legislative and regulatory reform carries sanctions against health care staff, operators and departmental administrators, including ministers, who are found to be guilty of failing to report to regulatory authorities issues of abuse and or maladministration. Sanctions should also include significant financial penalties, which may be equally applied against any ministers found to be in breach;

  • Ensure that there is strong inclusion for consumer’s within all levels of governance of the proposed Protection Unit;

  • Facilitate installation and use of CCTV cameras in residential care facilities balanced with privacy and governance considerations with the consent of the resident/ or guardian.

  • In regard to protection of financial interests, provide review mechanisms of activities under the Power of Attorney and Agency Act 1984 (SA); to provide for mandatory auditing of financial transactions of people holding Power of Attorney

  • Work co-operatively with all State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments to coordinate a best practice national approach, including interagency collaboration to develop:

    • reliable risk assessment tools for identifying persons at risk of elder abuse, the use of chemical and physical restraint and seclusion.

    • a national data base to collect and collate research and all reported incidents of elder abuse;

    • culturally effective programs to reflect the diversity of our community and to promote access to services; and

    • Community awareness of the significant value and contribution of senior members of South Australia and awareness of the rights of all people to the highest standard of care.

    • Official visitors need to have unrestrained capacity to furnish reports outlining issues and concerns identified in consumer service outcomes.

Below is a video from the families whose loved ones were abused at the Oakden Aged Care facility:

The SA-BEST team and I will fight for you like I fought for the families whose loved ones were abused at the Oakden Aged...

Posted by Nick Xenophon on Friday, March 9, 2018

Learn more about the Oakden tragedy here.

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