Older People In Retirement HomeAbuse of Older people is not only real—it’s frequent and it’s everywhere.

The recent investigation into retirement villages by ABC’s 4 Corners television program and Fairfax Media reveals systemic financial exploitation of older people living in retirement villages. Many are locked into contracts with providers where the older person carries exorbitant financial risk. Contracts appear to have been designed in order to extract as much money from the older person as possible while not providing advertised services. With exit fees often as high as 40% of the value of the property many people cannot afford to leave and are locked into situations that are emotionally and financially distressing. This is financial exploitation, which is one form of Elder Abuse.

Seniors Rights Service CEO Russell Westacott says, “Retirement villages need greater government oversight to stop the ongoing financial exploitation of older people. Where the retirement village is operated by a corporation the Commonwealth government has the opportunity to address this issue. Unscrupulous retirement village operators are perpetrating elder abuse through overly complex contracts that benefit corporations over the rights of older people.”

Stories on the systemic abuse of older people whether in aged care or retirement villages are far too frequent. Decisive measures need to be taken by both state and federal governments to provide greater oversight of the sector. Tighter regulations need to be developed to ensure all services to older, vulnerable Australians are delivered fairly and respectfully. Resources then need to be directed to adequate funding of investigation and compliance agencies. We must work towards a society free of Elder Abuse in all its forms.

Seniors Rights Service assists and works for older people b providing free and confidential legal advice to the older person or their legal representative. The organisation provides free information sessions on elder abuse and the rights of older people to seniors and community groups. Our advocates are available to speak with anyone who has concerns about the care of an older person receiving aged care services.

Seniors Rights Service is committed to increasing awareness and understanding of the rights of older Australians in the community, and to providing legal advice, aged-care advocacy and rights-based education. In 2016 Seniors Rights Service provided the following services to people specifically reporting elder abuse: 2,692 legal services; 625 advocacy cases due to a direct result of neglect or poor care management in aged care; 99 education sessions on elder abuse.