Spotlight on Elder Abuse
13 June 2012 at 2:27 pm
A Victorian organisation is convening a forum to raise awareness about abuse suffered by senior citizens.
Seniors Rights Victoria, a government-funded body supporting elderly victims, is holding the forum to coincide with World Elder Abuse Day on June 15.
Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) Jenny Blakey said “we need to let older people in our community know they have the right to live with dignity and safety”.
“Abuse of older people is a hidden issue, often occurring behind closed doors between family members,” she said.
Blakey noted, however, that new services in Victoria are beginning to offer advocates – and seniors themselves – the opportunity to speak out against abuse.
“Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is often carried out by someone in a relationship of trust, such as families and friends.
“It may involve taking someone’s money or possessions, not providing necessary care, making threats or stopping an older person’s social contacts, as well as physical or sexual abuse.”
In 2009 the Victorian Government released a report outlining its stance on elder abuse, Elder abuse prevention with respect to age – practice guidelines for health services and community agencies for the prevention of elder abuse.
The report said that “the abuse of older people is not a new social problem, and there is no evidence overall that indicates abusive situations are becoming more prevalent. Abuse involving older people is a complex social problem which requires equally careful and considered responses".
Manager at SRV Jenny Blakey said that while the research is limited, "many older people are very reluctant to report abuse or to ask for help".
"There are many reasons for [the lack of research] including concerns about getting a family member into trouble and not knowing where to go for help."
The SRV forum is to be held at Victoria Univerity's city campaus and will discuss how elder abuse varies in different cultures.
The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day campaign will be launched tomorrow night by Attorney-General Robert Clark and Chief Justice Marilyn Warren at the Victorian Supreme Court Library, according to SRV spokeswomen Jackie Jenkins.
At the launch SRV are expected to release a new guide – Assets for Care: Guide for Lawyers – to assist the legal profession on matters of elder abuse.
It is understood the Government will be releasing a new strategy on elder abuse in the coming days, according to a SRV spokesperson.