Chapter 11. Conclusion
The aim of this Project was to identify the particular legal and access to justice needs of older people in NSW. This research aim was achieved through a broad literature review, consultations with service providers and experts, and a submission process for older individuals and those that are close to them.
The legal needs of older people have been distinguished from those of other age groups in a variety ways:
- Legal needs that, except in unusual circumstances, tend to be experienced only by older people, such as issues arising from accommodation in retirement villages, residential aged care facilities and nursing homes. Legislative and administrative frameworks which govern these areas usually require specialist knowledge.
- Legal issues that have particular resonance for older people because of life-cycle factors. By virtue of their advanced years, older people have greater need of, for example, legal instruments for substitute decision-making, wills, care agreements, and may be more likely to face certain health-related issues.
- Legal problems that, while experienced by other age groups in the population, tend to be experienced differently by older people because of cohort factors. These include a reluctance to engage with the legal system, or generally to enforce rights through legal processes.
- Legal problems that, while experienced by other age groups in the population, affect older people more frequently or more severely due to some vulnerability. This category would include financial and consumer issues, as well as issues generally categorised as ‘elder abuse’. It would also include age discrimination in the workforce, where the effects are felt more keenly because it is more difficult to find alternative employment.
- Legal issues that, while experienced by other age groups in the population, will affect older people more frequently because a relatively higher proportion of older people are engaged in these issues. These would include several accommodation related issues such as strata title disputes, public housing related issues, home ownership, and accommodation in boarding houses and residential parks.