(15 June 2022) On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Age Action is reiterating the call for the establishment of a Commissioner for Ageing and Older Persons, with a supporting legal framework, that will ensure that we are all treated with respect and on an equal basis with the rest of the population in older age.
3,871 notifications of abuse for persons aged over 65 was reported in the HSE’s National Safeguarding Report 2021. Immediate family members are identified as the person of concern in reported cases of abuse of people over the age of 65.
“There are over 1 million people over the age of 60 in Ireland today most of whom do not have access to representative bodies or state resolution mechanisms that are available to employees of business owners. A Commissioner would address this gap by brining representation and transparency to issues relevant to older people” said Celine Clarke, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action.
“The Constitution of Ireland recognises the state’s duty to safeguard the interests of people when they reach old age or if they are affected by disability. Age discrimination has been recognised in the Employment Equality Acts since 1998 and in the Equal Status Acts since 2000. Yet there is a lack of infrastructure to ensure that the rights of older people with respect to their age are respected, protected and fulfilled. For example, there has been an Ombudsman for Children since 2004 alongside a full Government Minister for Children and Youth Affairs since 2011, but there is no equivalent independent authority tasked with promoting the rights, equality and welfare of older people” Clarke said.
A Commissioner would provide an opportunity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of society’s approach to an ageing population by bringing an appropriate level of insight, representation and transparency to policy on ageing. A Commissioner would provide an independent voice to Government on the needs of current and future older people, and promote cohesive, efficient, best-practice Government policy and services for the growing number of older persons.
The role of a Commissioner for Ageing and Older Persons can be summarised as an independent authority that:
• investigates systemic issues affecting older people, including by funding research and analysis to fill gaps where there is inadequate evidence to inform public policy;
• reviews the adequacy of policy, legislation and services affecting older people;
• advises Government on matters concerning older people, including by reference to international best practice.
As a member of the National Safeguarding Advisory Committee Age Action supports measures identified to safeguard older adults including the enactment of Adult Safeguarding Legislation and the expansion of the legal concept of coercive control beyond intimate relationships to include coercive control of another person as a crime in any close adult relationship or setting.