A message from the Commissioner for Senior Victorians with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the Royal Commission into Family Violence in the spotlight

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, an international day to raise awareness in the community of elder abuse, and how it affects older people.

Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, such as family and friends. It is a form of family violence and includes physical, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse, and neglect, and using someone’s money, property or other assets illegally or improperly. It can affect anyone, irrespective of background, gender, ethnicity or financial situation.

Elder abuse is a complex issue, and it can be very difficult for people experiencing abuse within their homes to break the silence and speak about their situation.

It is important to know that if you are concerned, or know of someone at risk or experiencing elder abuse, confidential help is available by calling Seniors Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821, or by talking to your trusted health professional.

For more information about elder abuse, visit the Elder Abuse page on Seniors Online or the Seniors Rights Victoria website at www.seniorsrights.org.au. To find out more about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and events, visit www.elderabuseawarenessday.org.au.

If you or someone you know is in an unsafe or life threatening situation you should ring Victoria Police on 000.

In our society, partners, families and friends provide an enormous amount of support for older people.

Most of the time, this support is focused on the expressed wishes and needs of the older person and I want to record my appreciation for the great amount of love and care provided by partners, families and friends - in many cases on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, there are older people in Victoria who sadly are at risk of, or experiencing, elder abuse.  June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and I would like to spend some time talking about this important issue.

Elder Abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, such as family and friends. It is a form of family violence, and includes using someone’s money, property or other assets illegally or improperly.

In some instances older people may not be aware they are experiencing elder abuse and to add to the complexity, family members are generally the people causing the distress to the older person, often unintentionally.

It is also important to note that social isolation and loneliness among older people is more prevalent than we may think. People in these circumstances may be vulnerable to elder abuse particularly if they lack access to family or friendship supports.

In the absence of family support, isolated older people can be vulnerable to abuse by others whom they come to trust.

Elder abuse can affect anyone, irrespective of background, gender, ethnicity or financial situation.

As the Commissioner for Senior Victorians, I am committed to empowering older people and appreciate the complexities of elder abuse, and how difficult it is to break the silence and speak up about a family member.

When talking to older people, I am aware that a significant number of seniors are not aware of resources that are available to assist them.

Many older people have limited knowledge about services that could assist them such as Seniors Rights Victoria, funded by the Victorian Government to provide a telephone helpline and a free and confidential legal advice, advocacy and referral service for older Victorians at risk of or experiencing elder abuse.

If you are concerned about elder abuse, or know of someone at risk of abuse, help is available by calling Seniors Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821, or by talking to your trusted health professional.

If you or someone you know is in an unsafe or life threatening situation you should ring Victoria Police on 000.