On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Australian Christian Lobby has called on the Victorian Government to resist calls to provide for state-sanctioned assisted suicide in the face of startling figures of elder abuse.
“The ACL commends the initiative of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, held today, as it focuses attention on the growing incidence of abuse and suffering inflicted on older people,” ACL Victorian director Dan Flynn said.
“It would be reckless and naïve for any Government to sponsor the notion that while elderly abuse is on the rise, somehow adding euthanasia to the mix will make our nursing homes safer places.
“Before they consider sanctioning the killing of any vulnerable elderly people, the Government really needs to address the elder abuse crisis that is unfolding in the State.
“It is confusing that while the Andrews Government is supporting World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, at the same time it is openly advocating assisted suicide.
“In its rush now to implement euthanasia, the Victorian Government is turning its back on palliative care as an effective and compassionate approach towards caring for persons approaching the end of their life,” Mr Flynn said.
“Allowing assisted suicide and euthanasia sends the message that some elderly lives are not worth living and that suicide and euthanasia are options that society supports and encourages. Such a message feeds a culture of elder abuse.
The alarming surge in preventable deaths in nursing homes revealed in new Monash University research adds to the grave concerns about state-sanctioned assisted suicide.
“According to the report, preventable deaths have risen 400 per cent in the past decade mainly through neglect,” ACL spokesperson Dan Flynn said.
Coupled with the spike in elder abuse reported by the Productivity Commission, the community can rightly question why the elderly are being neglected, and how they will be protected from being persuaded to prematurely end their lives if assisted suicide is made legal.
In March, disability advocacy groups were dismayed when the Federal Government ruled out holding a Royal Commission into claims of abuse and neglect of people with disability in institutional and residential settings.
“The Victorian Government needs to understand that growing evidence of neglect and abuse of the elderly and disabled means assisted suicide and euthanasia cannot be made ‘safe’,” Mr Flynn said.
“Only last month, the Tasmanian parliament soundly rejected euthanasia because it recognised its responsibility to protect the vulnerable including the elderly.
“Any notion of compassion is misguided if we accept killing the person instead of killing the pain.”