One in six Queenslander seniors experience elder abuse each year – mostly at the hands of family and loved ones.
Queensland Seniors Minister Craig Crawford – to mark 2022 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – this morning said elder abuse was never acceptable under any circumstances, and was mostly inflicted within family relationships or by a trusted loved one.
Mr Crawford said it was estimated that one in six older Australians experience some form of elder abuse.
“It can be emotional, financial, physical or sexual,” he said. “It can also result from neglect.”
Recent Elder Abuse Prevention Unit statistics reveal there had been a 31.8% rise in the reports of elder abuse – a trend attributed to increasing global financial stresses and impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
One of Queensland’s leading community legal centres, Caxton Legal Centre, will today turn the spotlight on the topic during a series of events to be held in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall – including appearances and keynote addresses from Queensland Public Advocate Dr John Chesterman and ‘Starts at 60’ digital platform founder Rebecca Wilson.
Caxton’s Chief Executive Officer Cybele Koning told QLS Proctor she hoped the event encourages the community to come together and learn about this important issue.
“Whether we are nine or 90, we all deserve to be safe, equal and respected,” Ms Koning said. “Elder abuse. It is confronting. It is horrendous. It is happening.
“To prevent elder abuse from happening, we must understand how it works, and the underlying attitudes, structures and beliefs that drive it.
“We hope anyone coming along to (today’s) event leaves a bit wiser about elder abuse and where to seek help if they’re concerned.”
The Brisbane ‘WEAAD 2022 – It’s all about RESPECT’ event kicks off at 9am on the mainstage of the Queen Street Mall (near the Myer Centre) and runs until 3pm.
Festivities include a Welcome to Country by Ashley Rusker, an official opening by state MP Jonty Bush and remarks by Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson.
The Queensland Government last year earmarked $4.9 million for elder abuse prevention, seniors legal and support services, financial protection advice, and a scams and fraud protection service in 2021-22.
Crawford today said: “Older Queenslanders are owed a debt of gratitude for the wonderful legacy they’ve given us in our great state.”
“We all have a duty of care to ensure seniors are supported to enjoy happy, healthy and active lives.
“Sadly, many instances of elder abuse occur within family relationships, or it is someone they know and trust.
“Through our collective effort, we can help older Queenslanders to be safe and free from abuse, so they can live with respect and dignity.”
The head of Queensland UnitingCare’s Wellbeing unit – which provides aged and health care through a range of services – said for many people the concept of elder abuse was shocking and was not something they realised was so prevalent.
UnitingCare’s Luke Lindsay said: “We recognise this isn’t an easy topic to discuss, but we can’t have it continuing to exist in the shadows and pretend it’s not happening, because it is.
“So, on World Elder Abuse Prevention Day, we want to draw attention to it.
“We need to help educate the community, while importantly celebrating our senior citizens and recognising their ongoing contribution to society,” Mr Lindsay said.