June 15th is declared by the United Nations to be Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day “when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations” (United Nations).
This is both a national problem in Australia and an international issue, and so it is important to raise awareness of the maltreatment of older people that is occurring at home and abroad. The United Nations website provides the following explanation of this global problem:
A Violation of Older People’s Human Rights
Elder abuse can be defined as “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person”. Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.
In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. Until recently, this serious social problem was hidden from the public view and considered mostly a private matter. Even today, elder abuse continues to be a taboo, mostly underestimated and ignored by societies across the world. Evidence is accumulating, however, to indicate that elder abuse is an important public health and societal problem.
The Advocare National Elder Abuse Annual Report for 2014-15 is a great resource for educating yourself about the problem on a national level within Australia. Advocare is an organisation that provides advocacy to older people and people with disabilities.
The 2014-15 report provides recent statistics on areas including the number of cases
reported during that period, types of abuse occurring, and who the perpetrators tend to be. The report also looks at specific case studies. To download the report, click here.
The Elder Abuse Protocol: Guidelines for Action published by the Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse in Western Australia is another great resource, which sets out ways of recognising that elder abuse is happening, and approaches to responding to it. You can download that document here.
We encourage you to read more about this important issue, and to share the information in your local communities and networks. Below are a list of useful websites with information and resources related to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day:
Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse: Western Australia: http://apeawa.advocare.org.au/
Senior Rights Victoria: elderabuseawarenessday.org.au/
Aged Rights Advocacy Service: www.sa.agedrights.asn.au/abuse_prevention/world_elder_abuse_awareness_day_community_activity_starter_kit
United Nations: www.un.org/en/events/elderabuse/
International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse: www.inpea.net/weaad.html
National Centre on Elder Abuse (US): www.ncea.aoa.gov/Get_Involved/Awareness/WEAAD/index.aspx