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New criminal laws in Queensland help target elder abuse

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On 1 May 2019, the Queensland parliament passed a Bill to introduce important changes to the Criminal Code of Qld in relation to crimes against elders and children. The changes include:

  • The definition of Murder is now defined to mean “death….. caused by an act done, or omission made with reckless disregard to human life”;
  • The offence of “failure to supply the necessaries of life” will now be treated as a crime, rather than a misdemeanour, and the maximum penalty will increase from 3 years to 7 years imprisonment.

While much of the commentary on these changes has focused on its benefits in respect to child abuse, they are equally applicable in the area of elder abuse where someone has failed to adequately care for an older person. There is still a strong argument that elder abuse requires a stand-alone piece of legislation but these changes highlight increased recognition on the part of law-makers of the need for a tougher response to elder abuse including neglect.

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