Elder abuse prevention plan launched by WA Government
The State Government has released Western Australia's first long-term strategy to combat elder abuse, outlining a series of support, education and awareness measures to combat the growing issue.
Seniors and Ageing Minister Mick Murray said, "This Strategy provides Western Australia with its first clear plan to combat the growing issue of elder abuse.
"With our ageing population, we are seeing increasing cases of older people being exploited by people they trust - whether that is money being stolen, or other kinds of social, psychological, or physical abuse.
"We need to be very clear that elder abuse is a kind of domestic violence and needs to be treated as such. Vulnerable older Western Australians need to be protected from those who would seek to exploit them.
"Most importantly, we need the public to join us in recognising the seriousness of elder abuse and the impacts it has on victims and families so we can prevent it in our communities."
The WA Strategy to Respond to the Abuse of Older People (Elder Abuse) 2019-2029 will guide the State Government's programs and initiatives to prevent elder abuse and protect the rights and dignity of older Western Australians.
Elder abuse involves the abuse of an older person by someone in a relationship of trust, often a family member, and most commonly involves financial, psychological or social abuse.
Believed to impact between 7,000 and 49,000 Western Australians, elder abuse is both an under-reported and misunderstood issue in the community.
The 10-year Strategy outlines four key priority areas:
- Educating older people and the community about elder abuse, the signs of abuse, and where and how to report it;
- Supporting older people to remain socially connected, and providing avenues to seek help;
- Safeguarding and supporting older people with accessible support and justice responses; and
- Building the evidence base to inform effective responses that can prevent and reduce elder abuse, and support older people to seek help and recover.
The State Government has allocated an initial $500,000 to progress the Strategy's outcomes, with an early focus on raising community awareness and educating people how to report abuse.
The programs and initiatives supported by the initial funding include:
- Five-year funding certainty with Advocare to continue to deliver the WA Elder Abuse Helpline;
- Education programs for professionals - including police, doctors and financial services workers - to detect elder abuse;
- Development of education resources for distribution through media platforms;
- A public advertising campaign to raise awareness of elder abuse and combat ageism;
- Peer and community education programs;
- Expansion of public forums and regional roadshows, including social isolation awareness and educational initiatives; and
- Research into elder abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Further funding, programs and initiatives to implement the Strategy will be delivered in the coming months.
The WA Strategy to Respond to the Abuse of Older People (Elder Abuse) 2019-2029 is available at https://www.communities.wa.gov.au/elderabuse
19 November 2019.