Elderly couple

We’re driving legislative change to protect the human rights of older Australians

In 2017, the World Health Organization estimated that more than 15 per cent of people over the age of 60 suffer some form of abuse in any given year, with this likely to worsen as the population ages.

A recent South Australian Parliamentary Inquiry noted an “unprecedented state and national concern about, and discussion of, elder abuse”. Dean and Head of UniSA Justice & Society, Professor Wendy Lacey, is supporting the inquiry’s findings through research, investigating cases of abuse and devising preventative measures.

Through strong and enduring partnerships with the aged care sector, peak advocacy groups and a range of local, state and federal government agencies, the UniSA research team led by Professor Lacey has helped to drive legislative change and improve urban planning outcomes. The team is focused on upholding the human rights of older Australians, including access to adequate housing, care and support services, and creating age-friendly cities.

UniSA’s rights-based approach delivered a coordinated national response to elder abuse with $15 million investment in new services.

Within South Australia, UniSA has produced and significantly shaped the creation of several landmark publications designed to protect the elderly, including the Strategy to Safeguard the Rights of Older South Australians; and the South Australian Charter of the Rights and Freedoms of Older People.

“This sound evidence base has enabled South Australia to rapidly progress in implementing a range of measures raising awareness and responding to elder abuse,” said Jeanette Walters, Director of Intergovernmental Relations and Ageing at SA Health.

As a direct result of its engagement with UniSA, the Office of the Public Advocate has developed a new dispute resolution service with accompanying mediation interventions.

“The emphasis is on ensuring that older, ‘at-risk’ people get assistance that is both coordinated and effective. We were delighted to work with the UniSA team,” said Dr John Brayley, former Public Advocate for South Australia.