World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: 15 June

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The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated 15 June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

WEAAD is celebrated each year, globally, providing an opportunity for communities to stand together against the abuse, mistreatment and neglect of older people.

What is elder abuse?

Elder abuse comes in many forms. It can be financial, emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, or social. Elder abuse can occur once, or many times and can vary in severity from subtle through to extreme. It can include one or a combination of the different types of abuse.

Most often, elder abuse is carried out by someone known to the older person, with two thirds of abusers being an adult child. Abusers can also be other family members, relatives, or friends.

Elder abuse affects people of all genders and all walks of life. The abuse, however, disproportionately affects women – two-thirds of people seeking help from SRV are women.

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and LGBTQI+ communities are additionally vulnerable, as are older people living in rural and regional communities.

Who is affected by elder abuse?

The most recent study of elder abuse prevalence in Australia found that 14.8% of those 65 years and over had experienced at least one recognised form of elder abuse over the previous 12 months.

This suggests that 160,000 older Victorians are experiencing elder abuse each year to a level they are willing to identify to researchers.

The incidence of abuse towards older people is also predicted to increase as many countries experience rapidly ageing populations, which Victoria is not immune from as our community ages.

By 2046, the number of Victorians aged 60+ is expected to increase by around 60 per cent to more than 2.3 million people, accounting for approximately 25 per cent of the population will be 60 years of age or older.

Insecure housing and homelessness are factors that greatly contribute to elder abuse, whether they are experienced by the older person themselves, or by people close to them.

Where can I find out more?

Seniors Rights organisations like Seniors Rights Victoria or Seniors Rights Service prevent elder abuse from occurring by offering free legal advice and information as well a range of educational and advocacy activities.

For nationwide assistance and to access additional resources in 20 different languages, call the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) or visit this website.

If it is an emergency, call 000.

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