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Elder Abuse - Know the signs and where to turn

Written by Caroline Rolender a Partner - Quality and Regulatory Affairs with integratedliving

 *Content warning: this article contains information that may disturb some readers. 

Elder abuse is never okay. Unfortunately, based on international statistics, it’s estimated that between two per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year. That’s why it’s so important we recognise the signs and help those experiencing such abuse know where to turn to get the help they need.  Only one in five cases of elder abuse is reported in Australia, meaning a significant majority of elders are unable or unwilling to speak out. 

Elder abuse can happen to anyone, no matter the age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or background. It’s an act that causes harm or distress to an older person, often carried out by someone they know and trust like a family member, friend or carer.   

It’s important to realise that elder abuse isn’t just limited to physical abuse. It comes in many forms and can include sexual abuse, financial abuse, verbal, emotional/psychological abuse, social abuse and/or neglect. In fact, financial abuse appears to be the most common form of abuse experienced by elderly people.   

Sadly, sometimes the perpetrator may not even be aware they are abusing their loved one, or the victim may not understand that they are experiencing a form of abuse.  

It’s critical you seek help if you are the victim of elder abuse. A good place to start is speaking with a trusted friend or family member should circumstances permit.

Help is here - three ways to report abuse.

1. Emergency situation: call 000 

If you find yourself in an unsafe or life-threatening situation, you should ring 000.  

2. Lodge a report with your aged care provider 

It is important any person experiencing elder abuse has access to support and can talk to someone they know and trust to make informed decisions. integratedliving takes any complaint in relation to elder abuse extremely seriously. You have the right to speak out about elder abuse without fear of being disadvantaged in any way. All feedback, comments and complaints are treated confidentially 

You can talk to your care team member including your support worker or volunteer - this may lead to a quick resolution. 

    • You could also contact us on 1300 782 896 and talk to a Customer Service Officer, who will listen, gather information and help find a resolution.
    • You can ask for the matter to be escalated to a senior manager, if you are not satisfied with the resolution from your Care Team or the Customer Service Team.
    • If you are not happy with the outcome, you may contact an external agency
         

3. Lodge a report with an official government agency 

We’ve provided a list of support services for you to access below:  

Elder Abuse Support Services

National 

Telephone: 1800 353 374 (national free call phone number) 

  

Australian Capital Territory 

Older Persons Abuse Prevention Referral and Information Line  

Telephone: 02 6205 3535  

Email: oma@act.gov.au  

  

New South Wales 

NSW Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline 

Telephone: 1800 628 221 

Email: nswadc@adc.nsw.gov.au 

  

Northern Territory 

Elder Abuse Information Line 

Telephone: 1800 037 072 

Email: info@dcls.org.au  

  

Queensland 

Elder Abuse Prevention Unit 

Telephone: 1300 651 192  

Email: eapu@uccommunity.org.au 

Rural and Remote Peer Support Network: eapu.psn@uccommunity.org.au 

  

South Australia 

Elder Abuse Prevention Phone Line 

Telephone: 1800 372 310  

Email: stopelderabuse@sa.gov.au 

  

Tasmania 

Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline 

Telephone: 1800 441 169  

Text: 0457 806 963  

Email: helpline@yoursaytas.org 

  

Victoria 

Senior Rights Victoria  

Telephone: 1300 368 821  

Email: info@seniorsrights.org.au 

  

Western Australia 

WA Elder Abuse Helpline  

Telephone: 1300 724 679  

Freecall: 1800 655 566 (Country Callers)  

Email: rights@advocare.org.au 

We acknowledge this topic is sensitive and may have brought up difficult and complex emotions that affect you, for several reasons. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to contact Lifeline 13 11 14.