A rights-based approach necessary in the response to elder abuse

With public hearings for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety beginning in Adelaide yesterday,  staff at Caxton Legal Centre hope to see the value of a human-rights-based approach feature in oral submissions.  

A human-rights-based approach positions the older person as the rights holder whose rights to autonomy and independence are recognized and enacted. This approach requires service providers to support the older person to exercise their right to self-determination.   

“The reframing required to implement a rights-based approach requires a shift in thinking from a focus on older people’s deficits to thinking about the rights an older person has,”  said Cybele Koning, Director – Family, Domestic Violence and Elder Law at Caxton Legal Centre.      

“This should have a positive flow-on effect, particularly where rights are captured in the regulations governing institutions such as aged care facilities to increase accountability.”  

The National Association of Community Legal Centre’s Older Persons Legal Services Network has argued that the following rights of older people must be enforceable:  

  • long term care, healthcare and palliative care
  • ageing in a place of choice, including support for independent living and housing
  • freedom from violence, abuse and neglect
  • freedom from torture, cruel and inhumane treatment
  • rights to life and dignified death
  • self-fulfilment and leisure
  • autonomy and independence
  • equality and non-discrimination
  • mobility and participation
  • privacy and family life.

Caxton Legal Centre operates the Seniors Legal and Support Service which provides a multidisciplinary response to elder abuse.