POLICE, agencies and central Victorian community groups are mobilising to raise awareness of elder abuse in the community.
The Country Women’s Association Bendigo Northern Group has arranged an event in Bendigo on Thursday, in the midst of Victorian Seniors Festival celebrations.
Bendigo Family Violence Liaison Officer, Sergeant Margaret Singe and Salvation Army Bendigo Corps financial counsellor Jackie Wagland will offer their insights into the issue as part of a panel discussion.
Sports clubs and community groups will also attend the event, which will take place in the community centre at Bendigo Retirement Village in Spring Gully from 1pm – 3.30pm.
‘Get social’ is the theme of this year’s Seniors Festival.
Marilyn Tangey, of the CWA, said social isolation was one of the most recognised risk factors for elder abuse.
Related: Elder abuse prevalence highlighted
Elder abuse is defined as any act that causes harm to an older person and is perpetrated by someone they know and trust.
It can take different forms, such as mistreatment, neglect, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, social abuse and physical abuse.
An adult child has been the perpetrator in 92 per cent of cases involving Seniors Rights Victoria.
Elder abuse is recognised as a form of family violence.
Ms Wagland identified the abuse of power of attorney arrangements as one of the biggest issues in the space, with some clients stating their families were managing their money and they did not receive enough to buy essential goods.
“In financial counselling, I’m dealing a lot with the banking sector,” she said.
Related: Banks call for elder abuse watchdog
Some of her primary concerns included responses from banks that ‘weren’t quite appropriate’ to the needs of older clients, such as suggesting ‘reverse mortgaging’ or selling properties to make mortgage repayments.
“It’s creating more vulnerability for people who are already vulnerable,” Ms Wagland said.
Sergeant Singe said a reluctance to report was one of the greatest challenges in responding to elder abuse.
“A lot of it is not reported for the mere fact it’s family,” she said.
She said much of the reporting was not coming from the victims themselves. Police were receiving reports from people who were involved in the victim’s life and were concerned for them.
Sergeant Singe said identifying elder abuse was another of the challenges.
“A lot of the times they think their family is trying to look after them,” she said.
She encouraged people to look at the situation as if it did not involve a family member.
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