Social Issues

50 sexual assaults per week in Australian aged care homes, commission hears

Sydney, Australia, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- An Australian royal commission heard Thursday that there are almost 50 sexual assaults per week in aged care homes.

“This is a national shame,” said Peter Rozen, a senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care during his closing submissions, in reference to more than 2,500 incidents of “unlawful sexual contact” recorded in residential care homes between July 2018 and June 2019.

“Many witnesses have explained they placed their loved ones into residential aged care because they felt it would be safer for them or because safety was a concern,” he said.

“It is therefore entirely unacceptable that people in residential aged care face a substantially higher risk of assault than people living in the community.”

Almost two in three residential care services reported an assault allegation in 2018-2019, Rozen added.

In 2018, the Australian government ordered an inquiry into the sector following allegations of abuse against the elderly residents at the Oakden facility in South Australia, where they were allegedly inappropriately restrained and overmedicated. The alleged killing of a resident was also reported.

The government commission, for which closing submissions were heard Thursday, seeks to investigate aged care facilities and will submit its final recommendations at the end of 2021.

In November last year, the commission released its interim report, entitled “A Shocking Tale of Neglect,” which featured videos of residents being left with maggots feeding on open sores as well as others that showed abuse and neglect in the sector.

Preliminary recommendations issued during the hearings include a law based on human rights principles for older people, enforceable duty of care, reforms in the ratio of caregivers to elderly people, an aged care pricing authority to determine prices, and creating an independent process to set standards of care, among others.

According to official data, in Australia more than 1.2 million elderly people are cared for by this sector at an annual cost about $19,934 per person, while caregivers, usually women on temporary contracts, earn around $16 per hour. EFE-EPA


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