Elder abuse prevention network milestone

Seniors Rights Victoria recently led an interagency workshop about elder abuse as part of the Elder Abuse Prevention Network (EAPN) project, one of the Victorian Government’s preventative responses to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The Victorian Government is funding the establishment of 10 elder abuse networks to collaborate at a community level and focus on the prevention of elder abuse. Seniors Rights Victoria is supporting this work by conducting research on the project which began with the workshop and will continue until February 2019.

Partner networks chosen for the EAPN project so far are: Eastern Community Legal Centre, Ballarat Community Health Centre, South West Carers and Respite Services Network (Warrnambool), Macedon Ranges Shire Council and the Southern Melbourne Primary Care Partnership.

The State Trustee Australia Foundation provided Senior Rights Victoria with additional funding support to conduct independent research on the primary prevention work being done about elder abuse in those communities.

Senior Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey said it was timely for the workshop to be hosted during the Victoria against Violence campaign about family violence, given older women make up more than 75 per cent of callers using the confidential elder abuse helpline service.

Elder abuse is any form of violence or mistreatment that causes harm to an older person, and occurs within a relationship of trust. The abuse may be physical, social, financial psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. Elder abuse is believed to be greatly under-reported, but is estimated by the World Health Organisation to affect up to 10 per cent of older people worldwide.

Ms Blakey said the collegiate of organisations at the Melbourne-based workshop were optimistic the project will result in a greater understanding of work being done to support the prevention of elder abuse and build on the capacity.

“There is great work being done by organisations such as community health centres, shire councils, carers networks, primary care partnerships and community legal centres to support older people who are at risk of elder abuse, but we need to strengthen this network and learn how to better support each other and older people,” Ms Blakey said.

“Prevention of elder abuse is important given the rising number of older people in Australia, the reluctance to seek help, difficulty of resolving problems once they happen and the damage to family relationships that can occur. Elder abuse is one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society and we need to address these drivers of elder abuse.”

Ms Blakey said the EAPN project will work with participating service providers, older people and the community to understand the needs and experiences of older people at risk or experiencing elder abuse.

“We hope by the end of the project for this collaboration to have shared the lessons so the EAPN can develop a best practice framework that contributes to the prevention of elder abuse,” she said.