COTA SA welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the review of the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995 (the Act).
COTA SA engages widely with older South Australians across the state, in person and via phone and email. The lived experiences of the diverse community of older South Australians shape our policy and advocacy work.
This submission has been prepared in consultation with COTA SA’s Policy Council and key stakeholders including JFA Purple Orange and the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS).
It is important in responding to this review that COTA SA clearly states its expertise and representation is with and by older South Australians and not in relation to other vulnerable groups.
As part of its review, the South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI) has published a series of fact sheets with corresponding questions. This submission refers to these questions where appropriate, however we have also addressed other concerns that we consider important as part of this review.
Elder abuse affects one in six older Australians (15%).1 It has harmful psychological, physical and financial consequences to those experiencing it and can result in serious injury, neglect and death.
Given the prevalence and perniciousness of elder abuse in South Australia and the compelling, comprehensive work undertaken as part of the Closing the Gaps report2, COTA SA supported the provision for an Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU) to be established through amendments to the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995 in 2018.
COTA SA acknowledges that the SA Government responded with priority and urgency in amending the Act and establishing the ASU within challenging timeframes.
It is important, given the formative nature of the service in South Australia and the absence of exemplars in other jurisdictions, to see the ASU as it currently operates as the first step and important progress toward improved protection of the safety and human rights of older people and other vulnerable adults. It is very unlikely to represent the final shape of an optimal response.