Seniors Rights Victoria farewells manager Jenny Blakey.
Victoria had Australia’s longest COVID-19 lockdown last year and maintaining contact with older people was a priority for COTA Victoria and Seniors Rights Victoria during this time.
To better understand how the pandemic and lockdown may have affected elder abuse, Seniors Rights Victoria compared the calls its helpline received in 2020, with those received the year before.
In 2020, there were significant increases in calls about psychological abuse (748, up 32%); physical abuse (184, up 40%); and social abuse (170, up 21%). This correlates with data collected by the Crime Statistics Agency which showed an increase in elder abuse incidents attended by Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria.
Both SRV and COTA Victoria quickly recognised that social isolation and fear about the COVID-19 pandemic would be serious issues for older people. However, it was also acknowledged that more research would need to be done to understand the impact of COVID-19 on older people and elder abuse.
COTA Victoria also conducted an online and telephone survey of older people aged mostly between 65 and 84. The primary aim of the survey was to ensure the voices of older people were included in public discussions about how to plan, manage and recover from natural disasters and community emergencies.
Featuring special guests the Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Gerard Mansour, and Gary Ferguson from Seniors Rights Victoria.
Join us to learn about how to protect your rights as an older person living in the community and explore the key ingredients needed to create a warm safe home.
We will also hear from a panel of local experts who can provide information on supports available for older people in our community.
This event is hosted by the Barwon Elder Abuse Primary Prevention Network in partnership with Bellarine Community Health.
This event is held as part of the Barwon Warm Safe Home Community Art Project and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence.
Seniors Rights Victoria, in partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute, analysed seven years of advice call data to produce this report about elder abuse in Victoria. Seven Years of Elder Abuse Data in Victoria gives an overview of who experiences abuse, who is responsible for perpetrating abuse, and what some of the contributing factors are. This project was funded by the State Trustees Australia Foundation. Highlights of the report include:
- Over the seven years, the service has continued to grow, with a steep increase in the number of advice calls following the tabling of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence in early 2016.
- The advice call clients were 72% women and 28% men.
- Most clients (78%) lived in the Melbourne Greater Metropolitan area and were aged 70 or over (72%).
- Almost two thirds of clients disclosed that they had experienced psychological abuse (63%) or financial abuse (62%), with many clients experiencing more than one type of abuse. Approximately 16% of clients experienced physical abuse and 11% social abuse (11%). Relatively few calls were received for neglect (1.2%) and sexual abuse (0.8%).
- Almost all abuse (91%) experienced by advice call clients was perpetrated by a family member, most commonly sons (39%) or daughters (28%).
- The majority of perpetrators were men (54%), however, the proportion of female perpetrators varied by ten per cent (41 to 51%) during the seven-years, reaching 51% in one 12-month period.
- Drug, alcohol or gambling issues afflicted a rising number of perpetrators, averaging 35% over the seven-year period.
- Mental health issues were experienced by an increasing number of perpetrators, rising to 39% in the most recent period.
In August 2020 an online panel discussion was held to launch the report. Hosted by Commissioner for Senior Victorians Gerard Mansour, the panellists discussed elder abuse occurring within the family and some of the contributing factors affecting perpetrators.
A total of $321,500 in funding over the next two years will help Seniors Right Victoria maintain services to older Victorians — especially those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — who are experiencing elder abuse.
Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey welcomed the extra funding announced recently by the Victorian Attorney-General, Jill Hennessy.
‘On 9 May 2020, I was pleased to announce $17.5 million in additional funding to assist frontline legal assistance services in responding to COVID-19,’ Ms Hennessy said.
‘Our funding matched—and exceeded—the Commonwealth Government’s commitment of $12.092 million.
‘The additional funds for Seniors Rights Victoria recognise that it provides specialist legal assistance in an area of heightened demand for a vulnerable client cohort, due to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions.
‘I appreciate the way you and your team have maintained consistent and effective service delivery during these difficult times.’
Ms Blakey thanked the Victorian Government for the extra funding which she said would help Seniors Rights Victoria maintain advocacy and legal services for people who were experiencing elder abuse.
‘Callers to our helpline — 1300 368 821 — are more anxious and under greater stress because of the pandemic,’ Ms Blakey said. ‘We know that when families experience significant financial pressures that some older family members may be unduly pressured to surrender money and assets.
‘Elder abuse stems from the way the community views older Victorians. Unless we acknowledge and value the key part that older people play in our society, we will not reduce the rates of elder abuse. The current restrictions should not mean that older Victorians are any less engaged and included than before the pandemic.’
Seniors Rights Victoria provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people.
Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as family or friends. If you, your client or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, call the confidential helpline on 1300 368 821.
For more information, call Phillip Money, Senior Media and Communications Advisor, COTA Victoria, on 0407 329 055.
For some older people, their homes are not safe or warm due to elder abuse within their home.
Elder abuse is exacerbated by a lack of housing or insecure housing.
‘Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health, well-being, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world,’ said the Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria, Ms Jenny Blakey. ‘It is an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.’
Most elder abuse occurs within the family or in a domestic setting with the most common form being ‘intergenerational’ which is perpetrated by an adult child against their parent. The most common forms of elder abuse are financial, followed by psychological or social.
This year, WEAAD activities have shifted online. And while the format of many events has changed, the commitment of participants has not dimmed. Next Monday, the City of Melbourne will lead the charge, lighting up the town hall for the evening in purple, the colour associated with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It will also be joined by the City of Monash Town Hall in Glen Waverley.
For a complete listing of WEAAD events, visit the dedicated WEAAD website.
Stir a cuppa for seniors
SRV staff are encouraging people to follow our lead next Monday afternoon (June 15) when we will be holding an online purple tea party called ‘Stir A Cuppa For Seniors’ with seniors and others. We encourage you to host your own purple tea parties and post the pictures on social media with the hashtag #WEAAD. The attached PDF file provides information about how to host your online tea party.
Warm safe home project
The importance of safe, secure accommodation towards reducing elder abuse will be highlighted through on online forum to be held on Thursday 18 June.
Former Aged Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan AO will be the keynote speaker at the Warm Safe Home online forum. Organiser Dr Rebecca Nevin-Berger has spearheaded the Warm Safe Home project for the past year.
The project is encouraging people to decorate handcrafted paper houses with embellishments and words that describe what a warm, safe home means to them.
Registrations are essential for this free webinar. A limited number of places are available for people without internet to access the forum over the phone. To book, email Dr Becky Nevin-Berger or phone 03 5561 8111.
Rod Quantock podcast
Noted Melbourne comedian Rod Quantock will invite his audience to challenge ageist and sexist attitudes in a new podcast launched in conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Monday 15 June.
The podcast features the Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Gerard Mansour, SRV’s own Gary Ferguson and Michelle Lord, Elder Abuse Prevention Network Project Lead – Southern Melbourne Primary Care Partnership. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify or find out more information on Facebook.
Media Release | 28 April 2020
Seniors Rights Victoria today warned of the potential increase of elder abuse as a result of the economic and unemployment impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Jenny Blakey, the Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria, said significant economic and emotional pressures on families who did not have funds to pay for their rent, mortgages or regular bills could heighten the risk of elder financial abuse of older people and the broader community.
Ms Blakey said financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of a person’s property, finances and other assets without their informed consent or where consent is obtained by fraud or manipulation.
Seniors Rights Victoria have issued an alert highlighting the potential increase of elder abuse in the community as a hidden impact of the COVID-19 emergency.
The new Guardianship and Administration Act 2019, which came into effect on 1 March 2020, changes the way Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) appoints guardians and administrators for persons with diminished decision-making capacity.
The key changes include: