Elder abuse is gaining increased attention worldwide due to global population ageing. Population prevalence studies in the UK and Canada have found that approximately 5% of people aged over 65 experience one form of abuse in any one year, with the World Health Organisation estimating that 10% of older people globally are victims of abuse.
Elder abuse is a serious problem in Victoria, attracting increasing media and societal attention. Since the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence released its recommendations in March 2016, there has been increased focus on elder abuse and considerable government and philanthropic investment in education, new services, and integrated response models. However, the complexity of the issue means that current government and non-government responses are not always coordinated.
This project aimed to develop an action plan for people and organisations who have a demonstrated commitment to preventing and combating elder abuse.
The team from the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) worked in partnership with Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) and the Elder Abuse Roundtable members, including representatives from advocacy, legal, research, aged and health care service providers and the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA). They reviewed the literature, conducted surveys and focus groups with people working in health and aged care services and elder abuse and family violence services, and identified key gaps in the field of elder abuse and practical actions that can be taken to address these gaps.
The gaps include:
1. Lack of community understanding and recognition of elder abuse including older people’s voices.
2. Strategies for addressing ageism as an underlying contributor to abuse of older people.
3. Options for where to go for advice and support if elder abuse is being experience, detected, or suspected.
4. Access to family mediation services for people living in rural areas and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
5. Understanding of what “elder abuse ” means for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
6. Understanding of the factors that contribute to elder abuse within both informal and formal care relationships.
7. A range of affordable housing options for both perpetrators and older people experiencing elder abuse.
8. Systematic data collection about elder abuse, evaluation of existing services, and dissemination of findings.
9. Central repository for information on elder abuse policy, services, research, and education.
10. Clarifying the relationship between elder abuse and family violence, and what this means for government policy and services, and for older people’s understanding of where to go for help in abusive situations.