Wednesday 21 January 2015
Royal Commission into Family Violence must address it.
Seniors Rights Victoria welcomes the announcement of the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Family Violence, but says it must address elder abuse too.
‘Women and children suffer enormously from family violence, but thousands of older people are suffering as well. Elder abuse must be recognised as a serious family violence issue, and older people should be encouraged to speak up,’ said Seniors Rights Victoria‘s Manager, Jenny Blakey.
Elder abuse is defined as 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. While it is vastly under-reported, it is estimated that up to 10 per cent of older people worldwide suffer from elder abuse (WHO).
Seniors Rights Victoria received thousands of telephone calls on its Helpline last year. Financial and emotional/psychological abuses were the most common forms of abuse reported, with adult children the most common perpetrators. Women made up 72 per cent of callers, and a significant number of clients were from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. Elder abuse will increase in Australia as our population ages.
‘Many people lack understanding of elder abuse. There must be greater resources dedicated to raising awareness of this terrible problem, and law and policy responses that are sensitive to the particular needs of older people, said Ms Blakey, ‘In accordance with its Terms of Reference, the Royal Commission could look, for example, at how elder abuse can be prevented and how victims can be better supported to access justice,. More education of politicians and the community is vital too.’
Seniors Rights Victoria provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people. Services include the Helpline, specialist legal services, short-term support and advocacy for individuals and community and professional education. Seniors Rights Victoria also provides leadership on policy and law reform and works with organisations and groups to raise awareness of elder abuse.
For more information or interviews please contact Jenny Blakey on (03) 9655 2104 or 0407 329 279.