Elder Abuse Prevention

Elder abuse is any form of violence or mistreatment that causes harm to an older person and occurs within a relation of trust.

Elder abuse can include acts of psychological, physical, financial and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. Prevention of elder abuse is important given the rising number of older people in Australia, lack of reporting, difficulty in resolving problems once they happen and damage to family relationships that can occur. Tackling the drivers of elder abuse requires addressing ageism and other forms of potential disadvantage, such as cultural and linguistic difference, disability, racism, sexual orientation and gender equity.

In May 2017 the Victorian government launched the ‘Free from violence’ strategy to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women. Although the strategy is largely focused on violence against women, it acknowledges that elder abuse affects both older men and women and can be perpetrated by both men and women with whom the older person has formed a relationship of trust—such as a son, daughter, close friend or partner. It is through this strategy that Ballarat Community Health applied for and received funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for a 12 month project to convene, establish, manage and coordinate a regional Elder Abuse Prevention Network (EAPN) and related action plan.

The Central Highlands Integrated Family Violence Committee will support the project and provide an ongoing governance structure in order to ensure ongoing sustainability. The engagement of the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council, primary care partnerships, local councils, aged care alliances and community groups such as the Sebastopol Men’s Shed and the Ballarat U3A further strengthens this partnership and its reach.

The aim of this project is to establish a network with local groups and service users who are motivated to prevent elder abuse in their local community. The network targets six local government areas in the Grampians region—Ararat, Ballarat, Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool and Pyrenees—collectively known as the Central Highlands. The objectives of the network are:

  • To explore the causes of elder abuse and work on targeted and inclusive activities aimed at changing social attitudes in order to prevent abuse and violence against older people.
  • To conduct activities with older people in order to raise awareness of elder abuse and where to go for help.

There is a particular commitment to ensure that the perspectives of multicultural communities and the LGBTQI+ community are reflected in the network and plan.

Senior Rights Victoria (SRV) provides ongoing support for the network, which is one of ten networks funded through this project, as well as conducting action research on the implementation and providing information and resources on prevention via the DHHS and SRV websites

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