Central Highlands Elder Abuse Prevention Network based at Ballarat Community Health Services

Conversation seeds project

Caption: SRV Community Education Coordinator Gary Ferguson, standing back row, with the Central Highlands Elder Abuse Prevention Network based at Ballarat Community Health Services

The idea that from little things, big things grow is the foundation of a ‘conversation- seeding’ program tackling elder abuse. The program is working with older Victorians to help them increase community dialogue about ageing, and how ageism may lead to elder abuse.

SRV Community Education Coordinator Gary Ferguson said that there is little public discussion about these important issues.

In 2008, the Victorian Government identified that seniors could play a significant role in generating discussion, if they were skilled up. Those most likely to do this were highly able and willing to take action and were referred to as ‘ambassadors’.

‘By training seniors to generate discussion, we build capacity in the community to spread key messages,’ Gary said.

Six training programs have been delivered under the Conversation Seeds pilot. This includes one to a culturally and linguistically diverse group through Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre in Dandenong.

‘The most critical aspect of the training is to recruit key community informants, who are well connected and committed to having conversations within their networks, once they’ve completed the training,’ Gary said.

In September, training was delivered in collaboration with the Central Highlands Elder Abuse Prevention Network based at Ballarat Community Health Services. Those attending came from seniors’ groups as well as agencies and organisations from across the region. Some of those who attended will return for a follow-up training session in which they can demonstrate a conversation in front of a group and receive feedback. The Conversation Seeds Resource Guide is provided to each of those who complete the training and