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There are around 3.6 million older Australians, over the age of 65, according to the 2016 Census, representing one in six people (16 per cent). This proportion has increased from 14 per cent in 2011.

Older Australians generally want to remain independent and in control of how and where they live; to stay connected and relevant to their families and communities; and be able to exercise some measure of choice over their care.

An older woman is smiling

The Queensland Government released Queensland: an age-friendly community, a framework that builds on the existing work and investment of the government.

Aged care reform

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety – the Royal Commission is looking at the quality of residential and in-home aged care and provided a final report in March 2021.

Aged Care Legislated Review – this review looked at whether the Living Longer Living Better reforms since 2012 have improved aged care in Australia. The review’s 2017 final report concluded that the reforms have made the aged care system more sustainable but changes are needed.

For more information about the reforms visit the Department of Health’s Aged care reforms and reviews page.

Aged care services

The Australian Government subsidises different types of aged care services to help older people. These services include help for those who want to stay in their own home or in an aged care home, as well as support for those caring for someone.

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme provides support for those who want to stay in their own home but need some help with daily tasks or require entry level care. It is for older people who are mostly – but not completely – able to live and cope on their own, and don’t yet need higher levels of support at home. Services may include domestic assistance with household jobs, personal care, home maintenance, home modification and nursing care. Other services provided in the community may also include social support for social activities in a community-based group setting and help with transport to go shopping or to attend appointments.

Home care packages

For those with more complex needs, home care packages provide similar services to the Home Support Programme but the services are co-ordinated and tailored to meet specific needs.

After-hospital care (transition care)

Transition care is for older people who have been in hospital, but need more help to recover and time to make a decision about the best place for them to live in the longer term. Transition care may be provided either in the home or in a ‘live-in’ setting. This setting can be part of an existing aged care home or health facility such as a separate wing of a hospital. You can only access transition care directly from hospital.

For more information visit the My Aged Care website.

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is any act within a relationship of trust which results in harm to an older person. It can be emotional, psychological, financial, physical and sexual abuse, or neglect.

Responding to abuse in older populations requires a flexible and community-based approach to accommodate different types of abuse, various cultural groupings and the remote communities that occur within Queensland.

While age discrimination or ‘ageism’ is one factor to be considered the existing discrimination faced by minority groups can compound the effects of ageism. Other factors such as language barriers, access to culturally appropriate services, lack of a support infrastructure within some community groups, and so on, make detecting and responding appropriately to abuse in these communities a challenge.

Rural and remote communities in Queensland present another set of challenges associated with distance, availability and access to services.

Signs that someone may be experiencing abuse

The person may be:

  • afraid of someone close to them
  • irritable, or shaking, trembling or crying
  • depressed or withdrawn, talking of suicide
  • uninterested in their usual interests
  • presenting as helpless, hopeless or sad
  • worried or anxious for no obvious reason
  • reluctant to talk openly.

They may:

  • change their sleeping patterns or eating habits
  • have a rigid posture
  • make contradictory statements not associated with mental confusion
  • wait for another person to answer rather than answer questions themselves
  • radically change their behaviour.

How to get help

If someone is experiencing abuse it is important that they know that there are a range of options available to them. These may include introducing support or counselling services, arranging respite care, separating the victim from the abuse situation, finding alternative accommodation or taking legal action.

The Elder Abuse Helpline provides free and confidential advice for anyone experiencing elder abuse or who suspects someone they know may be experiencing elder abuse. Call 1300 651 192 – 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.

The Seniors’ Legal and Support Service (SLASS) provides free legal advice, information and social work services for people over 60. Call 07 3214 6333 or visit the SLASS webpage on the Caxton Legal Centre Inc website for more information.

The Office of the Public Guardian is an independent statutory body that protects the rights and interests of vulnerable Queenslanders, including adults with impaired capacity to make their own decisions. They can investigate allegations of harm or abuse against people with impaired capacity. Visit the OPG website.

In an emergency, if someone is in imminent danger call the police on triple zero (000).

More information

The Elder Abuse Prevention Unit (EAPU) promotes the right of older people to live free from abuse. The EAPU website provides a range of information and resources including training manuals, information sheets and links to relevant sites.

The Queensland Department of Communities has an Elder Abuse campaign to raise awareness of the issue.

Seniors enquiry line

Seniors Enquiry Line is a state-wide information and referral service linking seniors with community information. The service is funded by the Queensland Government and operated by UnitingCare Community.

Queensland seniors, their family, friends and carers can access information on topics of interest to seniors including concessions, social activities, household assistance, retirement accommodation, financial and legal matters, health, education, transport and many other issues. Their online database allows you to search by suburb and/or service type to access information on services for seniors in your local community.

For more information call 1300 135 500 or visit the Seniors Enquiry Line website.

For more information on legal, finance and concessions issues relevant to seniors visit the Queensland Government website.

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