Domnica Sparkes, UnitingCare Queensland Elder Abuse Prevention Unit Project Officer

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day falls each year on 15 June and is denoted by the colour purple which, represents wisdom, dignity, independence and creativity.

Each year, between five to 10 per cent of older people are victims of abuse or mistreatment.  Much of this is unreported and many do not or are unable to seek help.  The reasons for this are varied and complex and can include stigma, shame, self-blame, impairment (cognitive or physical) or fear.  The main perpetrators are adult children or family members.  This can add to the difficulty in seeking help as parent-child relationships are important and the feeling of betraying a family member may be overwhelming. 

Most older people still have decision-making capacity.  They may also own the home and simply want the adult child to move but not willing to leave them homeless.  Safety planning generally needs to be holistic and may need to address the needs of the perpetrator, as a way of addressing the older person’s needs and addressing the abuse.  

Service providers can call the UnitingCare Queensland Elder Abuse Prevention Unit (EAPU) 1300 651 192 (or 07 3867 2525 outside Qld) and discuss cases, or alongside the older person, as a conference call, to work on how the abuse can be resolved.  Having a worker with them that they know and trust can often be a source of support and comfort for them as they gather all the information about their rights and services that can assist.  It also gives them the added support in case they forget anything or don’t understand.

The UnitingCare Queensland Elder Abuse Prevention Unit (EAPU) is funded by the Queensland Government and provides a confidential helpline for anyone who witnesses, suspects, or is a victim of elder abuse or mistreatment.  Callers may remain anonymous and only non-identifiable information is collected.   This information is used to show what the elder abuse incidents look like in Queensland and the most common forms of abuse, risk factors and notifiers.  The helpline operates Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and all helpline operates are specially trained on elder abuse issues.  Please call the helpline on 1300 651 192 for confidential information and support.

The EAPU website is a useful resource with information and publications on elder abuse.

For more information call or email the EAPU on 1300 651 192 or [email protected]

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