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Greater Protection for Vulnerable Adults

Media Release: Age Concern New Zealand

March 19, 2012

Greater Protection for Vulnerable Adults

Age Concern New Zealand is delighted a new law which comes into effect today will provide greater legal protection for older people.

The Crimes Amendment Act (No 3) 2011 was passed last year to give agencies greater ability to “hold individuals to account for harming the most vulnerable in our community.”

Age Concern New Zealand President Liz Baxendine says this means abuse and neglect cannot be ignored. Anybody with a close connection to a vulnerable adult who is being abused or neglected, who does not take action is liable to be prosecuted.

The sentence for abusing or neglecting a vulnerable adult has also been increased from a maximum five to ten years imprisonment.

“We hope this penalty will act as a deterrent and may result in a decrease in abuse in this country. It affirms the value of all older people, including the most frail and vulnerable, and reiterates their right to a life free from abuse and neglect.”

“Family members and staff in residential care facilities and hospitals are legally required to intervene if they are aware that an older person they are looking after is being abused or neglected.”

Mrs Baxendine says the abuse of older New Zealanders is a serious and often hidden national issue with Age Concerns responding to at least two new cases daily.

Age Concern is New Zealand’s leading organisation working to against elder abuse.

To help combat the problem, 19 Age Concerns around New Zealand provide intervention, support and education services.


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