Older Persons Advocacy Network

Author: Russell Westacott

For the last 30 years advocacy services have played an integral role in ensuring recipients of aged-care services receive optimal and quality care. Aged-care advocacy organisations are located in each state and territory across Australia. These services are independent of aged-care providers. Funded by the Commonwealth these community-based organisations have been a cornerstone at ensuring those in receipt of aged-care – residential or home-care packages – can have questions answered, are given a voice and appropriate referral when necessary.

These services work closely with the older person or their representative to ensure the rights and dignity of those seeking aged-care services in Australia are upheld and that communication with providers is negotiated to ensure care is maximized to its fullest potential.

As Australia’s aged-care sector continues it pathway of reform OPAN will play a central role in ensuring older people understand their rights and their service options. OPAN plays a significant role in dual referral between MyAgedCare as well as the Aged Care Complaints Commission. OPAN services across the country are essential in bringing equity and support to some of Australia’s most vulnerable and marginalized people.

Advocacy services in each state and territory have a variety of linkages to LGBTI communities in their respective jurisdictions. This can range from regular attendance to LGBTI community events, advertising and promotion in queer media, speaking at forums during the Mardi Gras period, dedicated staff to serve older LGBTI people, participation in LGBTI Senior’s Week events and collaboration with a number of LGBTI organisations around the country. It is through these community efforts that we can raise the profile of our respective services within the LGBTI community. It should also be noted that many of our organisations have LGBTI people on staff who participate in various aspects of programming to ensure it is appropriately targeted.

At a national level OPAN is building stronger connections with various peak bodies and consumer groups. OPAN has regular dialogue with the National LGBTI Health Alliance. Our group of agencies across the country is committed to providing advocacy services to all older people in receipt of aged-care services or those who are contemplating access to such services.

To find your local aged-care advocacy visit the Older Persons Advocacy Network website at: opan.org.au