Preventing elder abuse with technology and the law
Technology can help more older Australians take steps to prevent elder abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond.
Why we need digital witnessing enshrined in law
The COVID-19 pandemic has been placing older Australians at increased risk of abuse due to growing pressure on families and isolation away from community supports.
Older people can use legal documents like Enduring Power of Attorney and Appointment of Enduring Guardian to enshrine their agency and prevent elder abuse.
Often, the law requires solicitors to be physically present to witness the making or revoking of these documents. This has been made impossible by COVID-19 restrictions that have prevented lawyers from meeting with their clients physically.
Increased use of digital platforms to witness documents means that people who previously had difficulties commuting and accessing courts or their lawyer’s office can now do so wherever they are. For people who live in regional areas, or for who commuting brings about other issues (family commitments, disability, transport or limited financial resources), witnessing documents remotely increases equal access to legal advocacy.
We need to roll out digital witnessing reforms nationally
When safeguards are in place, digital witnessing of documents is an effective way to prevent elder abuse and increase access to legal advocacy. Introducing these reforms and safeguards nationally will reduce the risk of elder abuse for our clients.