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Commissioner a powerful advocate for older people

Dr Kay Patterson with (from left to right) Sara Blunt (CEO, James Brown Memorial Trust), Carolanne Barkla (CEO, Aged Rights Advocacy Service), Anne Burgess (Chairperson, Council of Elders) and Craig Gear (CEO, OPAN) at a farewell event in Adelaide hosted by the Aged Rights Advocacy Service.

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) has acknowledged the outstanding contribution made by retiring Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson AO.

‘Dr Patterson has been a powerful and consistent voice in the fight against ageism, and a passionate advocate for the rights of older people,’ OPAN CEO Craig Gear OAM said.

‘After decades of service to parliament, and the community, Dr Patterson’s influence cannot be underestimated.

‘OPAN is especially grateful for Dr Patterson’s support of our #ReadyToListen project, which is aimed at preventing sexual assault in residential aged care.

‘This is part of a wider legacy around the prevention of all forms of elder abuse, for which Dr Patterson has advocated tirelessly.’

Dr Patterson, a former Australian Senator, steps down as Commissioner this month after seven years in the role.

In her departing speech at the National Press Club last week, Dr Patterson identified nationally consistent enduring powers-of-attorney and a national enduring power-of-attorney register as the two policy challenges ‘that would have the most impact on the wicked problem that is elder abuse.’

‘Harmonisation would make it easier for families to look after older family members in other jurisdictions, and for people to be educated about their rights and attorneys about their responsibilities,’ she said.

Advocacy organisations have been calling for uniform laws around guardianship for more than 20 years.

Mr Gear, who attended a farewell event for Dr Patterson in Adelaide today (4 July) hosted by South Australian OPAN member Aged Rights Advocacy Service, pledged to continue the Age Discrimination Commissioner’s work in this area.

‘I look forward to working with the government, sector stakeholders, and other peak bodies to help bring Dr Patterson’s vision to fruition,’ he said.