Event fo­cuses on el­der abuse

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ELE­SHA ED­MONDS

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.’’

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