Spotlight placed on el­der abuse


Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News - Su­sanne Reilly

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.

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