Launch of the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)

The Federal Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, MP launched the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 29 November 2017.

Page last updated: 06 December 2017

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29 November 2017

Good morning.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

Thank you Lewis Kaplan, CEO, Older Persons’ Advocacy Network

I also want to acknowledge:

    • Margot Hawker, Aged Care Advocacy Consumer
    • And the many distinguished guests here today.
The Turnbull Government’s aged care reforms are gathering pace.

A key element of our reform agenda is ensuring senior Australians have a voice to speak up for them when they need it most.

Advocacy services have a proud record of supporting Australians, especially in aged care settings.

They help ensure the rights of our seniors are respected and that they can make informed decisions about their future.

Advocacy is about having someone in your corner who understands your individual needs and expectations.

This morning I’m pleased to launch the new single national provider for the National Aged Care Advocacy Program – the Older Persons Advocacy Network – OPAN.

OPAN will operate right across Australia to support senior Australians to understand and exercise their rights.

Through its network of nine service delivery organisations – one in each state and the ACT and two in the Northern Territory in Darwin and Alice Springs – OPAN will provide a nationally consistent model of independent advocacy.

Its offices will also provide information and education that focuses clearly on the rights of senior Australians in aged care.

This includes people with diverse needs who might have a disability, are living with dementia, are care leavers, or are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Aged care is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.

Our senior Australians belong to diverse groups within our community. Individually and collectively, they have helped build Australia become one of the most prosperous – economically, socially and culturally – nations on earth.

We all know that aged care safety and quality are non-negotiable.

While the overwhelming majority of aged care facilities and providers deliver excellent care and are working to continually improve their services, problems can still arise.

Preventing and addressing elder abuse is a priority for the Turnbull Government.

That is why the Attorney-General commissioned the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to conduct an inquiry into laws and frameworks to protect older Australians from abuse. The ALRC’s Report Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response identified both immediate strategies and long term approaches to support older people’s autonomy and to safeguard them.

The Report recommended that vulnerable adults should be better protected from abuse and made 43 recommendations for reform.

The Council of Attorneys-general has established a Working Group with all Australian jurisdictions to help develop a national response.

Our Government has committed $15 million to improve our current understanding of elder abuse, raise awareness, and develop training for frontline staff.

In addition to this election commitment, I have provided OPAN with an additional $1 million towards existing elder abuse prevention activities.

This will support continued, nationally focused elder abuse prevention activities, to help this abhorrent behaviour to be stamped out.

And for the first time in 20 years, we are on track for a single set of quality standards that have been co-designed with wide ranging consultation, to reflect community expectations.

I remain committed to working with all aged care providers and the entire aged care sector, to ensure our quality and safety standards are world-class.

I wish OPAN well and I look forward to hearing and seeing the results of your advocacy services. I know that senior Australians, their families and carers are in safe hands.

Thank you.
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