Category Archives: Older People

Elder Abuse: Everyone’s business

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society, elder abuse.

Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

WEAAD was officially recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011, following a request by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), who first established the commemoration in June 2006. read more

Starting the conversations with older people

Seniors Rights Victoria’s often uses conversation seeds by way of image props and discussions in their community education sessions, with many of the current talks listed on the WEAAD website.

Community education coordinator Gary Ferguson and a team of volunteer peer educators enjoy the sessions, helping older people and the professionals working with them to understand how they can prevent elder abuse. For a community educator’s perspective read Gina’s story.

The conversation seeds, such as the image pictured, are used as a starting point for their discussions about elder abuse, the link to ageism and the rights of older people. This image illustrates Lloyd Kahn’s skateboarding story which began at the age of 64. The image is him at 79 years still pursuing his passion. When he was 66 years old he fell off and broke his left arm. The treating doctor at the hospital didn’t tell Lloyd he was too old, but attended to his broken arm and advised how he could skateboard safely by wearing protective gear. read more

Gina pursues elder abuse prevention message

When Seniors Rights Victoria’s peer educator Gina Fiske has an older person start to talk to her about the disrespect they are being shown in the family, she stops talking and listens.

Gina brings the breadth of a career in family, youth and child programs and heath prevention. She understands the most important aspect for someone brave enough to share their elder abuse story is to be believed.

“People are often fearful of talking to other people about their situation, they’ve often lived with it for a long time,” Gina said. read more

We can prevent elder abuse in communities

While there is no comprehensive data available for the prevalence of elder abuse in Australia, it is estimated that up to 14 per cent of older people may be experiencing abuse.

In most cases elder abuse is an intergenerational form of family violence. In 2016-17, people aged 60 years or over made up just over 5,400 of the family members affected in family violence incidents recorded by Victoria Police (Crime Statistics Agency).

“Just as respectful relationships within families help prevent family violence, respect for older family members is a primary protection against elder abuse, particularly when it comes to a family’s financial arrangements,” Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey said. read more

Maria’s shares her experience of elder abuse

For this year’s WEAAD, Seniors Rights Victoria asked two former clients, Maria* (pictured) and Meg* to share their stories about elder abuse within their families. It was hard for both Victorian women to speak about their experiences, but then neither want any family to endure what they have. Elder abuse is not a happy story, but changes can be made.

Maria’s issues began after she took in her adult son to help him through difficult personal and financial times. Despite positive beginnings, things quickly soured.  Arguments ensued around Maria’s son using her credit card without paying her back, refusing to contribute to household expenses, stealing $8000 worth of stamps from a collection and finally, making physical threats on her life. read more

Event ideas for WEAAD

Anyone can host an event or help raise awareness for WEAAD. In particular, we encourage councils and seniors groups to jump on board and get together on the day, even if only for a cuppa and a conversation. It can be as simple as an afternoon tea or walking through your community wearing purple (although you’ll need to rug up because it is June!)

Seniors Rights Victoria is supporting a public awareness campaign throughout the community by way of its public talks and by inviting all Victorian public libraries to include complimentary purple bookmarks in books borrowed by their customers. Look out for these at a library near year throughout the month of June. read more

Should elder abuse be criminalised?

To link with this year’s Law Week activities hosted in May and in advance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on 15 June, Seniors Rights Victoria has released some additional discussion papers covering some legal complexities linked with elder abuse.

The initial series of discussion papers released aim to build understanding between the family violence sector and older people experiencing elder abuse, acknowledging that despite the progress of reforms into family violence, gaps remain on how best to integrate older people in this space. read more

Share your views on elder abuse in the community

Seniors Rights Victoria is supporting the Elder Abuse Prevention Networks project across the state by assisting the implementation of a community survey about elder abuse.

A Victorian Government funded project, the Elder Abuse Prevention Network (EAPN) will operate at 10 sites in regional, outer urban and metropolitan areas at an individual and community level, to raise awareness and educate communities about the rights of older people.

Senior Rights Victoria EAPN Project Officer Alexia Huxley said seven sites have been chosen for the networks. They are being run by different organisations including several community health services, a community legal centre and local councils. read more

National EA Conference – The Gift That Keeps on

Seniors Rights Victoria held a workshop on financial elder abuse as part of this year’s national Elder Abuse Conference hosted by the NSW-based Seniors Rights Service in Sydney last month.

Seniors Rights Victoria Principal Lawyer Rebecca Edwards and Community Lawyer Tabitha O’Shea presented the case study of Linda, a single, retired academic aged in her 70s, who had agreed to sell her house and contribute 50 per cent, a total of $500,000, to the purchase of a home by her daughter Gina and Gina’s family, husband Mike and two sons. The plan was that Linda would live in a self-contained section of the house. Sadly, once the move was made Linda was subjected to increasing verbal abuse and threats to kick her out of the home. read more

Ageing without fear – a discussion on elder abuse as family violence

One of the key results of the 2016 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence was the recognition of elder abuse as family violence.  Nevertheless, the Royal Commission acknowledged that older people would have very specific needs that would need to be addressed by the family violence sector. A year into the reforms, gaps remain in how best to integrate older people in the service.  The family violence sector, focused on intimate partner violence, may not be presently equipped to cater to the needs of older people experiencing other types of elder abuse.  Further, older people experiencing elder abuse may not see their situation as one of family violence. read more