The Federal Government is partnering with the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) for an online learning package aimed at helping optometrists, aged care providers and other health professionals deal with cases of sexual abuse.
Funded via a $168,000 government grant, OPAN is working with leading researcher Dr Catherine Barrett to develop Abuse of the older person: eLearning program for health professionals, which will help health professionals prevent, identify, and respond to elderly assault cases.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Mr Richard Colbeck said it was an important contribution to reinforce the safety of senior Australians, following the sobering findings of the Royal Commission into Age Care Quality and Safety earlier this year.
“Assaults on the elderly – in any form – are deplorable,” Colbeck said.
“These incidents were underlined in the findings of the Royal Commission into Age Care Quality and Safety and the Morrison Government is more determined than ever to ensure those in care are treated with respect and dignity.”
OPAN’s online program, which will consist of 33 online learning modules, will also be aimed at health and allied health workers, such as GPs and optometrists, who may be the only people some senior Australians confide in after being assaulted.
Barrett will also launch a #ReadyToListen social media campaign to encourage senior Australians and their families to report sexual assault.
Colbeck said the initiative would complement the government’s $17.7 billion response to the Royal Commission.
“One of the five pillars of our comprehensive response is a $942 million investment in driving systemic improvements to residential quality and safety, and the learning package is certainly consistent with that objective,” he said.
“I welcome this initiative as a positive step towards building the skills and capacity of aged care providers to better identify, prevent and respond to sexual assault.”
Colbeck said the government’s Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) was another key part of providing greater protections to consumers.
SIRS for residential aged care, including flexible care in a residential aged care setting, started on 1 April 2021.
It will be expanded into aged care home services from 1 July, 2022.