The voices of older people often get unheard in society. Older Australians have given so much to create and shape the society we live in, and yet when they aged many find themselves alone, unappreciated and sometimes taken advantage of.

Elder abuse is also common among older people with some exposed elders being victims of physical, emotional and even financial abuse.

As a community, people should help and support the elderly and the vulnerable – especially when it comes to navigating things such as aged care, legal rights and seeking help from abuse.

The Government has today launched a new, free nationwide support network to stand up for the rights of older Australians.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the Older Persons Advocacy Network would immediately provide strong local voices for individuals in need.

“A key element of our ageing and aged care reform agenda is empowering older Australians ensuring they have voices to speak up for them when they need it most,” said Minister Wyatt.

“Through OPAN’s network of nine service delivery organisations – one in each state and the ACT and two in the Northern Territory, in Darwin and Alice Springs – we are now providing a nationally consistent model of independent advocacy.

“This supports all elder Australians including those with varied needs who might be living with a disability or dementia, are care leavers, or are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.”

The Government has provided $25.7 million over the next three years for OPAN to deliver the new National Aged Care Advocacy Program.

Minister Wyatt said help was now at hand for people aged 55 and over, who encountered serious frustrations or needed guidance in navigating their aged care rights.

“Advocacy services have a proud record of supporting older Australians, especially in aged care settings,” the Minister said.

“They help ensure their rights are respected and that they can make informed decisions about their future.

“People needing help should see the OPAN website or dial the freecall number and they will be linked to a local service offering personal support.

“The aim of the service is simple – providing the free, independent and confidential advocacy support and information our elder Australians deserve.”

He said preventing and addressing elder abuse was also a priority for the Turnbull Government, and OPAN would play a role in tackling this issue, as well.

“In addition to our $15 million elder abuse election commitment, I have provided OPAN with an additional $1 million towards its work on continuing elder abuse prevention and support activities,” said Minister Wyatt.

ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow says the provision of a nationally consistent network of independent advocacy and support services represents a vital resource that will help to empower older people using aged care services.

“Supporting older Australians to know their rights is a key dynamic for the healthy functioning of the aged care industry. The announcement today is a welcome service providing for positive engagement between aged care providers, consumers and support services.”

“As the peak body representing not-for-profit aged care providers, it is our view that access to free, confidential advocacy and support will help facilitate an overall, positive engagement between older Australians and aged care providers.”

Older people, their families or carers in need of advocacy should go to the OPAN website or call 1800 700 600.

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