Calls to el­der abuse helpline dou­ble

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Greig John­ston

A NEW re­port on el­der abuse brings to light a con­cern­ing trend re­gard­ing mis­treat­ment of some of our most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens.

Phone calls to el­der abuse helplines al­most dou­bled in the 2014-15 fi­nan­cial year com­pared to the year be­fore; they jumped from 3159 to 6515.

And, ac­cord­ing to a re­port on the subject re­leased on June 15, World El­der Abuse Day, much of the abuse was psy­cho­log­i­cal and fi­nan­cial.

The re­port was pre­pared by Ad­vo­care, West­ern Aus­tralia’s peak el­der abuse sup­port agency.

Psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse of el­ders – de­fined as those over the age of 60, or 50 in the case of in­dige­nous Aus­tralians – was the rea­son for 39 per cent of com­plaints.

These can in­clude mis­treat­ment in­volv­ing ver­bal in­tim­i­da­tion, hu­mil­i­a­tion, ha­rass­ment, threats of var­i­ous forms, re­mov­ing de­ci­sion-mak­ing power or an en­dur­ing guardian act­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ately.

Fi­nan­cial abuse made up 37 per cent of com­plaints, and can in­clude non-re­pay­ment of home loans, deny­ing ac­cess to per­sonal funds or mis­use of a bank card.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ad­vo­care, Greg Mah­ney, said rais­ing aware­ness of the is­sue was cru­cial.

“The sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in calls to helplines across Aus­tralia in the last 12 months shows that el­der abuse is be­ing recog­nised in the com­mu­nity, but there is still much work to be done to iden­tify peo­ple who are suf­fer­ing so they can be as­sisted by agen­cies like ours.”

Mr Mah­ney said that al­though re­search showed that 4.6 per cent of peo­ple may ex­pe­ri­ence el­der abuse, the real fig­ure was likely to be much higher.

“Many cases go un­re­ported for rea­sons of self-blame, shame and fear, and many older peo­ple suf­fer in si­lence. Nearly 90 per cent of per­pe­tra­tors of el­der abuse are fam­ily mem­bers,” he said.

The El­der Abuse Helpline has re­ceived a boost of $135,000 from the State Govern­ment, an­nounced on Wed­nes­day.

Se­niors and Vol­un­teer­ing Min­is­ter Tony Simp­son said the ser­vice was a key de­fence.

Call the helpline on 1300 724 679 if you are be­ing abused or sus­pect some­one is be­ing abused.

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