Elder abuse takes many forms and requires a community response, says AASW on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Published: 15 June 2018
Stopping elder abuse starts with raising public awareness in order to prevent the damaging impacts it has on older Australians, AASW National President Christine Craik said ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Ms Craik said, “Elder abuse is a human rights issue affecting some of the most vulnerable members of society. We need greater appreciation of the dynamics and conditions that lead to its existence, including understanding what it looks like beyond physical abuse.
“There is a misunderstanding in the community that elder abuse is predominantly physical, but studies demonstrate that financial abuse is one of the more common forms, perpetrated mainly by the older person’s adult children and grandchildren.
“As with many forms of abuse, such as family violence, elder abuse is primarily about power and control, and can happen within quite different types of 'relationships of trust', including family members or friends, paid service providers and care workers.
“That is why days like today are so important. This is a broad community issue that requires the support of a range of institutions, including the banking and financial system.
“In addition, it is crucial that we have highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals who can provide supports in relation to an older person’s needs and, in doing so, be able to identify and intervene in situations where abuse may be occurring,” she said.
AASW welcomed the recent announcements from the federal government to ensure people in residential facilities can access mental health supports, and their commitment to a National Plan to address elder abuse.
Ms Craik said, “We strongly recommend that a national plan must look at workforce issues. As the Senate inquiry into Oakden nursing home in South Australia identified, the aged care system desperately needs greater involvement from allied health professionals, including social workers. The sector is also chronically understaffed, generally.
“Addressing elder abuse requires a comprehensive and coordinated strategy, and we believe this is one measure the government can take immediately.”
These issues were highlighted in the AASW's recent submission to the Federal Government’s Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia, including its support for a national strategy to raise awareness and improving research.
Christine Craik is available for interview.
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