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Home News and media centre News There is no ‘use-by’ date on consent

There is no ‘use-by’ date on consent

OPAN wants  your feedback

We would like your 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.

We know those figures are under-reported.

Sexual assault doesn’t stop after a woman hits menopause. The world just stops believing them

Health professional routinely dismiss older women’s testimony as unreliable. They make the false assumption that they’re reliving a childhood trauma or experiencing a UTI.

And the trauma of women who live with dementia or cognitive impairment is minimised because staff assume they won’t remember.

In a 2021 investigation by KPMG, 58 per cent of staff reported no impact on the victim.

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. Tell us what you think about the 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.