Sunday, 15 June 2008

Minister urges community to tackle Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is wrong and cannot be tolerated - that's the clear message being sent to commemorate the third annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day today, Sunday, June 15.

Lindy Nelson-Carr

Quuensland Seniors Minister Lindy Nelson-Carr said while many older people maintained active lifestyles and enjoyed the benefits of friends and family, some also experienced abuse.

"Australian researchers estimate up to 7% of older people have been affected by elder abuse and this is wrong," Ms Nelson-Carr said.

"Abuse can happen when a relationship of trust is broken and it can take the form of physical, sexual, emotional or financial hurt or neglect."

Ms Nelson-Carr said while there was no quick fix it was imperative members of the wider community took a stand and encouraged senior Queenslanders to speak out and take steps to thwart abuse.

"Complex family issues, dependency, financial problems and health issues all impact on the type of response needed to break the cycle of eld er abuse," said the Minister.

"It is silence which is the most dangerous. Abuse too often happens behind closed doors and senior Queenslanders may be too afraid or unwilling to talk about it.

"The community must get involved and get this problem out in the open if we are to protect the safety and livelihoods of our treasured seniors.

"When people realise they are not the only ones experiencing abuse, they can find it easier to overcome shame and embarrassment and take action to stop the crimes."

The Department of Communities and the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit hosted a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day seminar on Friday, June 13, with a range of experts and community organisations.

Presenters were given by the Ethnic Communities Council, Older People Speak Out, Adult Guardian, and Griffith University.

Discussed were a range of perspectives on elder abuse, including culturally and linguistically diverse people, people with diminis hed capacity, and media and research issues.

Ms Nelson-Carr said the Bligh Government was committed to pursuing and promoting its prevention and early intervention efforts to help stamp out this societal problem.

This includes funding of $1.7 million over the past five years to the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit to operate a free telephone service for people to express their concerns and access information and referral to services.

"Since the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit started operating 10 years ago, it has run training and information sessions for 10,000 older people and more than 12,000 community and health workers," Ms Nelson-Carr said.

"I recently announced a $1.9 million plan to extend a pilot Seniors Legal and Support Service across the State.

"This service offers free legal advice and support services to seniors who are experiencing, or are at risk of experiencing, financial exploitation and elder abuse.

"The Adult Guardia n is also available to protect the rights and interests of adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves due to intellectual or psychiatric disability, acquired brain injury, dementia or temporary illness such as delirium.

"I urge anyone experiencing abuse, or who suspects a case of elder abuse, to get in contact with the helplines to access assistance now."



For assistance and advice, call:
Elder Abuse Helpline 1300 651 192
Adult Guardian 3234 0870 or 1300 653 187 (outside Brisbane)
Seniors Legal and Support Services:
Brisbane 3257 1337
Cairns 4031 7179
Hervey Bay 4124 6863
Toowoomba 4616 9700
Townsville 4721 5511

Source: Ministerial Media Release
Comment:

Elder abuse can often be tackled legally in obtaining protection orders under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act and as the Minister suggested, by use of the Adult Guardian.

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