Older Persons Advocacy Network Wants Your Feedback

OPAN is seeking feedback on The Charter of Sexual Rights in Residential Aged Care, developed as part of the #ReadyToListen Project.

More than 40 sexual assaults are recorded in residential aged care each week, according to a recent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) report. Many more go unreported and some voiced reports to health professionals are dismissed as unreliable. There are false assumptions that the complainant is reliving a childhood trauma or experiencing a urinary tract infection.  For women with dementia or cognitive impairment, their sexual assault experience is minimised because staff assume they won’t remember.

A 2021 investigation by KPMG stated that 58 per cent of staff reported ‘no impact on the victim’.

survey link

A clear set of guidelines

To counter such harmful attitudes, OPAN’s #ReadyToListen project has developed a Charter of Sexual Rights in Residential Aged Care.

“To prevent sexual assault, older people and staff need a clear set of guidelines to help them identify when sexual activity becomes sexual assault,” said Dr Catherine Barrett, coordinator of the Ready to Listen project.

“We developed the charter – which outlines the rights and responsibilities of residents and staff – because aged care service providers told us they were having a lot of difficulty understanding where that line is.”

Dementia advocate Theresa Flavin says that while community expectations around consent have changed dramatically in recent years, that change hasn’t filtered through to our approaches to older people.

“So the biggest excitement for me about this charter is that suddenly we’ve got some leadership, we’ve got something on paper that will help not only older people, but people living with dementia and everyone that’s around us and supporting us to understand that no does not mean yes, silence doesn’t mean yes, and just sitting there quietly and not being able to say anything doesn’t mean yes.

“Only ‘yes’, means ‘yes’.”

OPAN is keen to get your feedback. Give your opinion here – Charter of Sexual Rights in Residential Aged Care.

Ready to Listen

The #ReadyToListen project aims to build the skills and capacity of residential aged care service providers to better respond to – and prevent – sexual assault in residential aged care. View the resources on our webpage.

Baby Boomers Guide – Upcoming Episode

Leading up to International Day of Older Persons on 1 October, Lex & Patricia discuss sexual crimes in residential care with CEO of the Older Persons Network, Craig Gear OAM.  The sexual assaults were labelled a ‘source of national shame’ in the Royal Commission into Aged Care.  Check back with Baby Boomers Guide to Life on 27 September 2022 when this special episode goes to air through the Community Radio Network around Australia, on podcast platforms and on this website..

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