The federal government “won’t know what’s coming” in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Border advocate Maria Berry believes.
And she has urged Border people to be brave and put their accounts of wrongdoings in submissions, which are open until at least July.
Mrs Berry, who works closely with Senior Rights Victoria and became an advocate after a personal experience with elder abuse, is preparing her own submission based on her work in the aged care sector.
“It’s not right and I have to make a stand – there’s such silence surrounding this,” she said.
“My fear is that there will be a lot of people who can’t come forward and won’t.
“The most powerful thing is the lived experiences.
“Laws need to come in place to ensure you can’t dispose of somebody’s assets and life.”
The terms of reference of the inquiry are focused on the aged care sector and systemic failures, but Mrs Berry anticipates there will be crossover with themes identified in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s report on elder abuse.
But many of the recommendations from that report have still not been adopted by the federal government.
“There’s been funding to look at the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but major law changes haven’t been implemented yet,” she said.
“I’m hoping people flood this inquiry and the government can’t ignore it.”
Already more than 800 submissions have been received from since the Royal Commission was announced in October, with dates and locations of upcoming hearings yet to be announced.
She described the “prison-like” conditions of the facility, which is now closed, and incidents including her husband being given 500 milligrams, instead of 50 milligrams, of his prescribed antipsychotic drug.
“I believe that CCTV cameras should be installed in all common areas of aged care facilities,” she said.
“There should be an option to have them installed in private areas.
“This would mean that if anything goes wrong, there is a clear record of what has happened.
“Was my questioning the only reason that his ill treatment eventually came to light?
Mrs Spriggs said speaking out had “come at great personal cost to me and to my family”.
“But I know that my speaking out made a difference and I’m glad that I did so,” she added.