Online learning to help keep senior Australians safe from sexual abuse

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is to develop an online learning package aimed at helping aged care providers and health professionals prevent, and respond to sexual abuse.


Funded via a $168,000 grant from the Australian Government, OPAN is working with leading researcher Dr Catherine Barrett to develop Abuse of the older person: eLearning program for health professionals.


Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck said, “Assaults on the elderly - in any form - are deplorable.


“These [assault] incidents were underlined in the findings of the Royal Commission into Age Care Quality and Safety.”


OPAN’s online program, which will consist of 33 online learning modules, will also be aimed at health and allied health workers, such as GPs and optometrists, who may be the only people some senior Australians confide in if they are assaulted.


Dr Barrett will also launch a #ReadyToListen social media campaign to encourage senior Australians and their families to report sexual assault.


The initiative will complement the Government’s $17.7 billion response to the Royal Commission.


Mr Colbeck said the Government’s Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) is another key part of providing greater protections to consumers.


SIRS for residential aged care, including flexible care in a residential aged care setting, started on 1 April 2021.


It will be expanded into aged care home services from 1 July 2022.


Mr Colbeck said the SIRS expands the responsibilities of aged care providers in relation to identifying, recording, managing, resolving and reporting assaults and a broader range of serious incidents in residential aged care.


Older Persons Advocacy Network offer free, independent and confidential services that focus on supporting older people and their representatives to raise and address issues relating to accessing and interacting with Commonwealth funded aged care services.


7 July 2021.