In February 2022 the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) released the findings of its first study into the prevalence of elder abuse within the Australian community.

Elder abuse is a single or repeated act; or lack of appropriate action occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust that causes harm of distress to an older person. AIFS found that one in six older Australians have reported experiencing abuse during 2020. Perpetrators are often family members but can also be friends, neighbours and acquaintances. AIFS also found that elder abuse often remains hidden and almost two thirds of older people do not seek help.

The study found that abuse can take many forms including psychological abuse, neglect, financial abuse, physical and sexual abuse. Older people with poor physical or psychological health and who experience social isolation are at higher risk of experiencing abuse.

Elder abuse is a serious problem within the Australian community. We agree with AIFS it is in urgent need of policy attention. We will work with the National organisation to ensure the interests of our members are represented in the ensuing policy discussions with the Department of Health.

There is some good news in the study and that is that the factors which protect against elder abuse. These include being in good physical and psychological health and high levels of social support. This is where our Health and Wellbeing Programs, Friendship Line and Social Clubs can help.

Further raising awareness of what elder abuse is within our community will also empower our members to identify when either themselves or others may need help.

There is a lot more to come in this space. If you need help now, please do not hesitate to get in touch or speak with your GP.

Support services are available. 1800 ELDERHelp Telephone 1800 353 374, NSW Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline Telephone 1800 628 221.

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