Reform round-up

Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 131)

The Elder Abuse Report included a suite of recommendations regarding the development of a National Plan to combat elder abuse. On 1 October 2017, then-Attorney-General Senator the Hon George Brandis announced initiatives that implement, or are consistent with, several elements of the National Plan envisaged by the ALRC. These include:

  • Funding for new research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies that would focus on the prevalence and nature of elder abuse in Australia. This implements ALRC Recommendation 3-5 that ‘There should be a national prevalence study of elder abuse to build the evidence base to inform policy responses’.

  • The establishment of an Elder Abuse working group, consisting of State and Territory Attorneys-General, to report to Ministers via the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council. (See Rec 3-2)

  •  The establishment of a new national elder abuse peak body to ensure that vulnerable older Australians are better supported through having their issues addressed and represented in a more coordinated and comprehensive manner. The new peak body would support the foster collaboration and the sharing of information to facilitate learning and innovation, and provide policy expertise to governments. While the ALRC did not recommend a new national peak body as such, the stated goals of the new peak body, and the recommended ‘Plan’ are similar, for example: in establishing a national policy framework (See Rec 3-1 (a) and Chapter 3 more broadly).

Family Violence – A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114)

Under a new National Domestic Violence Order Scheme (NDVOS), and any domestic violence orders issued from 25 November 2017 in any Australian state or territory can now be recognised and enforceable nationwide. This implements ALRC Rec 30-18 from its 2010 Family Violence Report, that:

A national register should be established. At a minimum, information on the register should:

  1. include interim, final and police-issued protection orders made under state and territory family violence legislation; child protection orders made under state and territory child protection legislation; and related orders and injunctions made under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth); and
  2. be available to federal, state and territory police, federal family courts, state and territory courts that hear matters related to family violence and child protection, and child protection agencies.