Wednesday 15 July 2015
Seniors Rights Victoria to present on Elder Abuse – Royal Commission into Family Violence
On Thursday 16 July, Jenny Blakey, Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria, will present at the Royal Commission into Family Violence’s public hearings: the ‘Financial abuse and Empowerment’ module. See: http://www.rcfv.com.au/Public-Hearings
Elder abuse is vastly under-reported. The World Health Organisation estimates that up to 10 per cent of older people worldwide are affected. The latest Seniors Rights Victoria data compiled by the National Ageing Research Institute shows that financial abuse and psychological/emotional abuse together are the most common forms of abuse reported by older Victorians (81.82%). Victims are most likely to be female (72.5%), and the perpetrators are 60% male and 40% female. 92.3% of abuse is perpetrated by people related to the older person or in a de facto relationship. 66.8% of abuse is perpetrated by a child of the older person.
As a 70 year old client of Seniors Rights Victoria, who suffered financial loss, psychological abuse and physical assault at the hands of her adult son, says:
“I never would have believed the boy I raised could do this to me. Make no mistake, elder abuse can happen to anyone. It is vitally important the public becomes aware of this kind of intergenerational family violence and what to do about it.”
Common scenarios of financial abuse involve adult children returning home, demanding their inheritance early or exchanging ‘care’ for their parents’ assets. In its submission to the Royal Commission, Seniors Rights Victoria argues that combatting financial abuse requires systematic future planning by older people, making mediation and family meetings more commonplace and better equipping relevant professionals to intervene. See the submission at: https://seniorsrights.org.au/our-submission-to-the-royal-commission-into-family-violence/.
To target the underlying causes of elder abuse (including the intersection of ageism and gender inequality) education in our community to change attitudes needs to start young and continue in targeted ways. Seniors Rights Victoria’s Jenny Blakey says:
“We applaud the Victorian Government for including elder abuse in the Commission’s terms of reference. Elder abuse needs to be tackled in a way that accommodates the unique profile of its victims and in partnership with the full range of relevant services – including medical, legal, banking, financial planning, aged care, housing and police.”
Through its submission, Seniors Rights Victoria is also seeking government funding to reach elder abuse victims in regional Victoria through a network of regional coordinators, and the expansion of the role and functions of the Office of the Public Advocate.
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.
For more information or interviews please contact Jenny Blakey on (03) 9655 2104 or 0407329279.