Event focuses on elder abuse
It was a day of saris and samosas but one with a serious message for seniors.
The Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust marked World Elder Abuse Day with a family event on June 13.
More than 200 people attended the event at Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall which included cultural performances, food stalls and a documentary screening.
Those at the event included Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, Labour MP Phil Goff and National’s Ethnic Communities Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
Trust project manager Nilima Venkat says the event aimed to raise awareness of abuse and neglect of older people.
‘‘Older people don’t want to talk about being neglected because of shame and guilt,’’ she says.
‘‘There is a lot of cultural stigma attached to elder abuse especially when the perpetrators of abuse are family members.’’
The Onehunga-based trust runs community support services for Indian and South Asian seniors.
Venkat says she has helped many seniors who had been abandoned by their adult children and left homeless.
Many families move to Australia and leave their older parents in New Zealand, she says.
Venkat knew of two cases of homelessness last year where the elderly have been forced to live in boarding houses or on couches after being deserted by their families.
‘‘It was the first time in my career that I cried,’’ she says. ‘‘ How could you leave a 75-year-old on their own?’’
Neglect is an issue that is often unreported, Venkat says.
‘‘We need to educate the community to accept that these things are happening.
‘‘It should be their moral duty to give the elderly the help they need.’’