Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2015 Contents service has two advocates who aim
to ensure that older indigenous
people will utilise the service to
assist them with access to both
mainstream and Aboriginal-specific
"This program has worked well
and allowed good connections
to develop with ARAS and
Aboriginal communities across
South Australia, including both
traditional and metropolitan older
Aboriginal people," she says.
"A successful model like this should
be rolled out across the NACAP if there
is a serious intention to support older
Aboriginal people as a special needs
group," she says.
One significant area that the review is very
quiet on is the issue of elder abuse and
advocacy relating to it, says Greg Mahney,
CEO of Advocare, the NACAP service in
"The Federal Government has shown
very little interest in funding any elder
abuse activity and it's time they stepped
up to the plate to provide more support,"
he tells AAA.
Mahney argues that it makes no sense
to exclude elder abuse from the review,
considering the overlap between these
issues and those likely to arise in aged care.
"Think of the impact on the
independence, health and wellbeing
of people who are getting aged care
services if they're being abused by their
relatives," he says.
The Federal Government ought to
fund the advocacy agencies nationally
to deliver a uniform approach to elder
abuse, "because currently there's a range
of different approaches, each state has a
different level of support," Mahney says.
Crabtree echoes the point, noting that
while all nine NACAP agencies deal with
what could be considered abuse issues on
a daily basis around aged care services,
only two currently receive HACC funding
to provide advocacy support specifically to
prevent elder abuse.
Also missing from the review is the
issue of systemic advocacy, which several
believe is a great oversight.
While the NACAP funded agencies
provide individual advocacy, there is
certainly a need for a formal mechanism
to provide information about the trends
and systemic issues arising, says Crabtree.
Westacott agrees about the importance of
systemic advocacy, but argues it should not
be the role of the state advocacy services to
lobby government on these issues.
"That should happen through a separate
agency. Our role is to provide services, as
one-to-one advocacy organisations. I think
most of the advocacy organisations around
the country are happy to feed into Council
on the Ageing and report some of the
problems we see," he says. n
*From 24 November TARS will be
renamed the Seniors Rights Service
skills training, possibly through a joint
conference; staff exchanges to develop
a better understanding of respective
sectors; shared resources on advocacy
practices; and possibly shared offices in
regional areas, says Crabtree.
Westacott says the secretariat could
be compiling and analysing the data
periodically sent to the Commonwealth
by the nine agencies, thereby gaining an
understanding of what's going on in every
state and territory.
The top three aged care advocacy
issues in NSW, for example, are the
agreement for residential aged care and
consumer directed care, financial issues
and care fees, he says.
Given the projected increase in
demand for aged services, Westacott
also argues that the state services should
be funded as a percentage of total
government spend on aged care. "As
aged care grows, in line with the ageing
population, there will be increasing
demand for advocacy services, putting
further pressure on our services," he says.
He also believes the funding provided
to each state service needs to better
reflect the demographic and geographic
realities of that region.
"Jurisdictions that have a lot of aged
care facilities need resources to get to those
facilities. Our organisation has 900 aged
care facilities [in NSW]; it takes us three
years to get around and see all of them."
Similarly, there is not a level playing
field between states regarding the
proportion of special needs groups in
each region. Indigenous, CALD and
LGBTI communities often take more
time and resources to successfully build
relationships in, Westacott argues.
ACSA also draws attention to the utilisation
of services by special needs clients.
"Members have raised some concern
about lack of services for people from
special needs groups (e.g. CALD)," its
submission states. It goes on to say that
special needs groups are not clearly
defined in the review discussion paper.
Similarly, ACSA says the review should
define the process for supporting people
with a cognitive impairment. "Members
report a lack of services that could assist
in this space," it says.
In terms of improving access for
Aboriginal people, Crabtree says that her
Advocacy Network (OPAN), to
solidify their state-based work,
provide capacity building and act as
a conduit between themselves and
the Federal Government.
"We think that with the amount
of money we get through the
NACAP, the advocacy organisations
are pretty nimble and do a very
effective job," Westacott says.
He acknowledges that the
services' reach outside the capital
cities could be improved, and
believes the government should consider
modest but flexible resourcing options,
such as allowing agencies to cohabit
with existing service providers in key
Crabtree argues that the "end-to-
end advocacy program" being sought is
already three quarters built, as seven of
the nine OPAN agencies are currently
funded to provide both NACAP and CHSP
"It only remains that funding for
Victoria and Central Australia needs to be
provided along with improved funding for
NSW," she says.
SIMILAR VIEW AMONG
The advocacy agencies' push for the
current state-based system has support
from several key stakeholder groups, such
as carers, seniors and providers.
While most support the government's
move towards a national framework, with
clear definitions and guidelines around
aged care advocacy, they are against the
option of moving to a centralised, national
"Retaining the current structure of
separate jurisdiction-based organisations
would continue to be the most efficient
aged care advocacy service model," Carers
Australia says in its submission to the review.
Similarly, Aged and Community
Services Australia (ACSA) concludes
that the current model provides national
consistency with state-based flexibility.
"Members report that they have
respect for the current NACAP services
and that the current model works well to
support consumers while they maintain
a good relationship with providers," its
National Seniors says that the state-
based model allows room for flexibility
of services and increased access, while
limiting administrative costs.
While endorsing the current state-based
system, almost everyone has views on
where it can be improved.
The advocacy agencies say the
department needs to appoint a secretariat,
which could be established with a "small
allocation of additional funding", to
formalise their OPAN network and act as a
The secretariat could facilitate
Russell Westacott Greg Mahney
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 47
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