Outcomes of an investigation

Proposal 3–4              In responding to the suspected abuse or neglect of an older person, public advocates or public guardians may:

(a)           refer the older person or the perpetrator to available health care, social, legal, accommodation or other services;

(b)           assist the older person or perpetrator in obtaining those services;

(c)           prepare, in consultation with the older person, a support and assistance plan that specifies any services needed by the older person; or

(d)           decide to take no further action.

3.43       The ALRC proposes that the outcomes of an investigation be centred around supporting and assisting an older person in addressing elder abuse. The proposed powers of interventions are in addition to existing powers to make an application for an order for guardianship or financial administration. Proposal 3-4 embodies a rights-based approach, under which the older person determines the manner and circumstances in which they receive support and assistance. It is similar to the model adopted in British Columbia.

3.44       Traditionally, adult protection legislation has taken a protectionist approach focused on the ‘best interests’ of the adult.[67] By contrast, a rights-based approach to intervention focuses on harm reduction. The older person is involved in the decision making, and is given support and assistance.[68] This may include assisting the older person obtain services such as housing, aged care services, household assistance, legal services, or counselling. It may also include assisting alleged perpetrators get access to services such as anger management, gambling counselling or other services that may stop the abuse or neglect.[69]

3.45       While some stakeholders have argued for the introduction of assessment orders, removal orders and banning orders,[70] such orders may not be compatible with a consent-based ‘support and assist’ model of investigation.