Calls to elder abuse helplines around Australia double in 12 months

Image of book and phone

A new report on elder abuse, released for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June, shows phone calls to elder abuse helplines around Australia have nearly doubled since the 2013/2014 financial year.

Figures from the National Elder Abuse Annual Report 2014/2015 show that information calls to elder abuse agencies have increased by 106 percent – from 3159 in 2013/2014 to 6515 in 2014/2015.

Caxton Legal Centre Director Scott McDougall said “Seniors from all walks of life are vulnerable to elder abuse.  The abuse is most often financial or psychological abuse and is usually at the hands of a family member.”

“At the heart of it is ageism – with older people being seen as less important.  When that is the mindset, it leads to all sorts of excuses for abusing the older person.  That’s why, at our Seniors Legal and Support Service, we see many cases of misuse of an older person’s money or assets by a trusted family member or friend.   It is also behind the psychological abuse inflicted on older persons – name-calling, yelling, isolation from friends, family and grandchildren, threats, humiliation and removal of decision-making power.”

“Understanding the prevalence or severity of elder abuse is difficult to ascertain given that abuses are often not reported due to the older person’s concern about the consequences of reporting a loved one or carer.  The reality is however, elder abuse can destroy an older person’s quality of life and significantly increase their overall risk of death.  As the aging population increases and considerable wealth is held in the hands of older Queenslanders, addressing elder abuse needs to be a major priority. Raising awareness of how to recognise and respond to elder abuse is everyone’s business.  It is a critical part of reducing abuse.”

“World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about the abuse of elders and how best to respond.”

The Seniors Legal and Support Service provides legal and social work support to older persons who are being abused.  They can be contacted on 3214 6333.  Anyone can make the phone call to the service. 

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (Wednesday 15 June) is an official UN General Assembly-designated day designed to draw attention to the increasing amount of abuse suffered or inflicted on older people.

For more information about Elder Abuse and what you can do to help visit the Queensland Government’s There’s No Excuse For Elder Abuse site.