A very successful National Elder Abuse Conference concluded last week in Melbourne with the Commonwealth Government establishing a National Inquiry into Elder Abuse. The conference attended by over 300 people received considerable media coverage particularly from the ABC and firmly put elder abuse on the national agenda.
The Conference was organised by COTA’s Seniors Rights Victoria.
Attorney General Senator Brandis said the Commonwealth Government was appalled by the level of elder abuse in the community. He has asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to report by May 2017 on the laws and frameworks needed to keep older people safe.
“All of us are appalled by accounts of older people being mistreated, neglected; even physically or sexually abused. It sometimes seems that not a day goes by without a report of an assault, a scam, or some other mistreatment involving taking advantage of an older Australian,” stated Senator Brandis. He also praised Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan for her contributions towards protecting the rights of older Australians.
“A national and coordinated approach is vital if we are to successfully tackle elder abuse”, says Seniors Rights Victoria’s Manager, Jenny Blakey.
“We welcome the fact that the Australian Government has now put elder abuse squarely on the national agenda – the inquiry announced at the conference is strong start,” Jenny Blakey said.
Seniors Rights Victoria is also calling for a national awareness campaign and systematized data collection, and more funding for organisations that respond to elder abuse.
“A national and coordinated approach is vital if we are to successfully tackle elder abuse. Our present system is fragmented and too many older people are not getting the help they need,” Jenny Blakey said.
Senator Brandis in his keynote address said that older women are the most susceptible and family members are the most common perpetrators.
“All Australians have the right to make their own decisions, to live self-determined lives, to live with dignity and free from exploitation, violence and abuse,” he said.
“Those rights do not diminish with age.
“Elder abuse is, regrettably, indicative of social attitudes which reflect a lack of respect or recognition of older persons as full participants in the community.
“Transforming cultural attitudes and fostering intergenerational respect is central to combatting abuse.”
Other speakers pointed out that ageism was the basis of elder abuse and that a concerted effort must be made to combat ageism.