Monday 10 August 2015
Elder Abuse and diversity at Royal Commission into Family Violence
On Tuesday 11 August, Jenny Blakey, Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria, will present on elder abuse at the Royal Commission into Family Violence’s public hearing on ‘Diversity of experiences, community attitudes and structural impediments’. See: http://www.rcfv.com.au/Public-Hearings.
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. Elder abuse is vastly under-reported but the World Health Organisation estimates that up to 10 per cent of older people worldwide are affected.
“Just as family violence includes a diversity of experiences, victims of elder abuse are also diverse. In the past year Seniors Rights Victoria has given advice to older people from 49 different countries of origin”, says Jenny Blakey. “These include clients who have been denied their cultural practices, such as the ability to practice their religion, and others who have been ignored by the police because they didn’t speak English well. Some clients have issues within the family violence system such as lack of access to interpreters and culturally and age appropriate refuges. The whole system requires a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) lens”.
The Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) has partnered with Seniors Rights Victoria to break the silence about elder abuse in CALD communities. The project has involved three years of work with Filipino, Macedonian, Chinese, Greek, Serbian and Turkish communities. The project is a proven success, having led to an increase in calls to Seniors Rights Victoria’s Helpline from members of these communities. It is now being extended to Polish, Croatian, Jewish, Vietnamese and Indian communities.
“Elder abuse can happen to anyone. There is no evidence that it is more prevalent in ethnic communities, however it may be more hidden and under-reported than in the general population,” ECCV chairperson Eddie Micallef says. “Older people from migrant backgrounds may be particularly vulnerable because they do not know where to go for help or because they rely more on their children for such things as translation of documents. As Seniors Rights Victoria’s data shows, adult children are more often than not the perpetrators of abuse. Older people may also face stigma about accepting help outside the family. Culturally responsive services and ethnic-specific community education are effective in keeping people safe and need ongoing Government funding”.
Seniors Rights Victoria and the ECCV have both made submissions to the Royal Commission into Family Violence that include recommendations for addressing elder abuse in ethnic communities. See https://seniorsrights.org.au/our-submission-to-the-royal-commission-into-family-violence/ and http://eccv.org.au/library/2015-06-02_SUB_RCFV_FINAL.pdf.
Older Victorians experiencing elder abuse can get help by calling Seniors Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821 Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 5 pm. Services include a Helpline, specialist legal services, short-term support and advocacy for individuals and community and professional education. Seniors Rights Victoria is supported by the Victorian Government. See www.seniorsrights.org.au.
ENDS. For more information or interviews please contact Jenny Blakey on (03) 9655 2104 or 0407329279.