Monday 15 June is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, providing a reminder for us to check in with our vulnerable family members, friends or neighbours to help prevent elder abuse and protect the rights of older Australians in the community.
Relationships Australia WA has been working with older Australians to provide early intervention and support to negotiate complex issues, and reduce the incidents of elder abuse since 2016.
- The World Health Organisation estimates that, worldwide, almost 1 in 6 (16%) of people aged 60 and over have been the victim of elder abuse in the past year.
- In 2017-18 more than 10,900 calls were made to elder abuse hotlines across Australia according to statistics released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Manager for Relationship Australia WA’s Peel Senior Relationships Service Charmaine Kennedy said World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an opportunity for local communities to advocate for those affected by elder abuse, raise awareness of the signs that someone is suffering from an abusive relationship and promote avenues for securing help.
She said a large percentage of elder abuse cases can go unreported, due to the individual being isolated from support networks or unable to access support.
“Elder abuse is a subject that is rarely discussed, but is something that sadly affects a lot of older Australians.
“The more we talk about it, the more we can help reduce the instances of elder abuse in our communities and prevent future harm to our most vulnerable. “
To align with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Relationships Australia launched our latest survey, which looks at awareness of abuse of older people in our society as well as attitudes towards older people. You can participate in the survey here.
Some common examples of abusive behaviour towards an elderly person can include:
- the isolation of the older person from social connections and support services,
- withholding mail, phone calls and contact with family members,
- misusing the older person’s finances,
- causing physical harm, psychological or emotional injury or threatening the older person with violence,
- treating them like a child,
- or any conduct that causes the older person to feel afraid, powerless or humiliated.
The Peel Senior Relationship Service offers older people and their families living in the Peel region free support to find solutions to conflict, dispute and elder abuse related issues. This can include counselling, conflict resolution services and providing assistance to older people to have difficult conversations with their families relating to their future care.
Support can be accessed by older people individually, with their family, or members of their family can engage with the service individually.
Ms Kennedy said without support and guidance, matters of abuse can be overwhelming and difficult for the older person and their family to navigate.
“Our case managers help people to access appropriate support, ensure adequate progress, advocate on an older person’s behalf where appropriate, and help improve the safety and wellbeing of the older
“We urge anyone who is concerned for themselves, or others in their family or community, to give us a call or get in touch with our service.”
To contact the Peel Senior Relationship Service please call 6164 0173 or visit the service page here.