Greens welcome extra protections for Canberra’s most vulnerable


The ACT Greens today welcomed more protections for vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse – including seniors.

This follows calls from the Greens in recent years to ensure that extra protections are put in place. In a submission to the ACT Government in January, the Greens proposed the following actions, and we’re pleased that these have been realised today.

  • Action to strengthen protections for seniors should be expanded to include all vulnerable adults such as people with a disability
  • At present, a person can only be charged with neglect against a child or young person. The Greens want the definition of neglect, as defined in the Crimes Act, to be expanded to include all vulnerable people, not just children
  • That age or vulnerability should be considered an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing. That means when someone is violent or abusive to someone who is elderly or more vulnerable, they should get a harsher sentence.

“The Greens are pleased today to see this increased recognition of the society-wide issue of abuse against all vulnerable people, be they adults or children,” ACT Greens spokesperson for Seniors Caroline Le Couteur said today.  

“Today’s amendments to the Human Rights Act means that all adults with a disability will have a clearer course of action where there are allegations of abuse. It is good that this has been included as a priority during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic as there are many people for whom the isolation creates increased vulnerabilities and risks of abuse.

“I am also pleased today that the ACT Government has tabled a Bill to address the criminal nature of violence, abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults. The fact that it is not contained to only people over a certain age but includes all adults who are vulnerable ensures adults with disability are also protected. It shows that the Government has listened to advice provided during their consultation and is consistent with the advice I provided in my submission.

“We must ensure our legal system has the right protections in place for all Canberrans, at every stage of their lives – especially for those most vulnerable in our community.”

In 2017-8, the Greens helped successfully secure more support for seniors, with a new Seniors Rights Service established in the ACT following Greens’ concerns that existing services in the Territory didn’t go far enough.

The ACT Greens believe that all people have the right to live with dignity, feel safe and live free from abuse, neglect and violence and that people who abuse others are held accountable for their actions.