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Aged Care Justice, a not-for-profit providing legal assistance to elders facing systemic abuses, issued a statement against the restrictive practices bill.
Schedule 9, section 54-11 within a list of amendments to the Aged Care Act 1997, presented to parliament last week by aged care minister Anika Wells, offers legal immunity to aged care providers and workers administering restrictive practices in ‘certain circumstances’.
Aged Care Justice's statement highlights that the bill places no boundaries on people who may be authorised to give informed consent on behalf of aged care residents, who no longer have decision making capacity. In many instances a representative called upon to make decisions would be a trusted family member. However decisions can also be decided by a state-appointed guardian.
Aged Care Justice president Bryan Keon Cohen AM QC foresees a number of disturbing outcomes if the bill passes in its current form.
“The Principles can be varied by the responsible minister without any requirement to ensure that the class of persons capable of providing vicarious consent is consistent with, or supportive of, the rights of aged care residents,” he says.
“If enacted, this legislation may well result in an increase in abuses uncovered by the aged care royal commission. For example, aged care residents classified as ‘difficult’ could be restrained without their families knowing."
Aged Care Justice is a not-for-profit group of volunteers, incorporated in Victoria pursuant to the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012. Established in October 2020, by senior legal and medical professionals. Aged Care Justice’s Chairman is Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen, AM QC, a member of the Victorian Bar, now retired, and is supported by other voluntary Board members.
Aged Care Justice’s core mission is ultimately to secure and improve the lives of residents of aged care. The crisis revealed by the Royal Commission into Aged Care points to the urgent need for action.
Read more about Aged Care Justice's concerns about restrictive practices.