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Aged care joins world in elder abuse awareness

Australian aged care providers will mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today, joining the world in voicing its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people.
Australian aged care providers will mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today, joining the world in voicing its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people.
Australian aged care providers will mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today, joining the world in voicing its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people.

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.

As people age and become more frail, they may be less able to stand up for themselves. They may not see or hear as well, leaving openings for people to take advantage.

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.

DPS News will attend the Aged Rights Advocacy Service World Elder Abuse Awareness Day conference in Adelaide tomorrow (16 June 2015). Find out more about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

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