Spotlight placed on elder abuse
FUNDING FOR HIDDEN ISSUE
ONE in 20 older people will experience some form of abuse in Western Australia.
This statistic comes from Belmont-based Advocare – an organisation that supports and protects the rights of older people.
Last week was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the State Government boosted an Advocare helpline with a $100,000 grant to keep it operating in 2015-16.
Seniors and Volunteering Minister Tony Simpson said the helpline was a valuable resource in preventing the physical, emotional and financial abuse of older people.
“This is an issue that has long lurked in the shadows and needs to be talked about openly,” he said.
“Research tells us that even when people are experiencing abuse, they may avoid seeking help, believing it could cause personal embarrassment or friction within the family.”
East Metropolitan MLC Samantha Rowe said Belmont had a large seniors population and protecting people from elder abuse was an issue that was important to local people.
“We have a responsibility to make sure that older people are protected from elder abuse and that they are not slipping through the cracks because of ineffective laws,” she said.
Advocare, the Department for Communities, WA Police and other organisations have formed to make the Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, which co-ordinates policies aimed at prevention.
According to the alliance, elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and occurs within an informal relationship of trust, such as family or friends.
It can include financial, emotional, physical, sexual and social abuse as well as neglect.
The Alliance was established in 2005 to promote a whole-of-government policy framework that values and supports the rights of older people.
In 2011, the alliance released the Examination of the Extent of Elder Abuse in Western Australia: Qualitative and Quantitative Investigation of Existing Agency Policy, Service Responses and Recorded Data.
The report concluded that no single source of data provided a window into the nature and extent of elder abuse.
But based on a range of international prevalence and incidence estimates for elder abuse victimisation, an average prevalence rate for WA was reported to be 4.6 per cent which translated to about 12,500 victims WA for 2011.
The report anticipated the number of victims over the age of 65 would increase by about 90 per cent over twenty years.