Each year, 15 June marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day internationally recognised by the United Nations.
Southern Cross Care (WA) (SCC) is just one service provider that recognises elder abuse as a prevalent issue in the community.
Rosemary Hogan, SCC head of residential care, says she believes this issue needs ongoing attention by the aged care industry as a whole to ensure the rights of the elderly are protected.
"The issue is transparent and openly discussed in our facilities. We are vigilant in maintaining our processes and systems across all our facilities specifically related to elder abuse," Ms Hogan says.
“We have policies, processes, monitoring registers and reporting systems in place to ensure the rights of residents are maintained. In particular we pay close attention to residents living with dementia or cognitive issues," she says.
In addition, SCC has information available in its facilities for family and residents on what to do should they have any concerns.
"We take it so seriously that we also measure it in our annual staff survey by asking staff how they rate us on identifying, reporting and actioning elder abuse," Ms Hogan says.
Elder abuse often tends to take place in the person’s own home, by their adult children, other family members or carers. Elder abuse can take different forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual assault, financial exploitation or neglect by caregivers.
In Victoria, to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Martin Foley, Victorian Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, will light up the Melbourne Town Hall in purple. Seniors Rights Victoria will host the function from 6pm to 8pm in the Portico room of the Melbourne Town Hall (90-120 Swanston Street, Melbourne). Guest speakers include: Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley; Seniors Rights Victoria’s manager, Jenny Blakey; and comedian Rod Quantock.
Latest figures compiled by the National Ageing Research Institute of Seniors Rights Victoria data over a two year period show financial abuse and psychological/emotional abuse 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.
“Elder abuse is a critical but under recognised family violence issue. It is very important to shine light on the problem. Elder abuse will only increase in Australia as our population ages," Ms Blakey says.
Seniors Rights Victoria will make a submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.