Queenslanders urged to join the fight against elder abuse

Published Thursday, 15 June, 2017 at 01:15 PM

Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Seniors and Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland
The Honourable Coralee O'Rourke

The Palaszczuk Government has urged Queenslanders to join the fight against elder abuse on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD – 15 June), as new figures reveal a spike in the number of reported cases.

Seniors Minister Coralee O’Rourke said the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit had received a 30 per cent increase in calls, following a strong focus on raising awareness and encouraging people to report abuse.

“In the last financial year, the Government funded Elder Abuse prevention Unit received more than 1,500 notifications, which is up from around 1,300 in the previous year,” Mrs O’Rourke said.

“While the increase is a positive sign more people are reporting, we know there are still many more who are too afraid or ashamed to come forward, or who simply don’t realise what they are experiencing is abuse.

“That is why today we are launching the second phase of our awareness and prevention campaign, “There’s no excuse for elder abuse”, which focusses on the two most common forms of abuse – financial and emotional.

“From now, until the end of August, the campaign will be promoted in shopping centres, licensed venues and medical centres, on buses, and on social media – to ensure everyone sees the message.

“We need to keep the conversation going about what elder abuse is and how people can recognise the signs and seek help for themselves or people they know.

“We need to do this not just today, but every single day of the year.”

Mrs O’Rourke said the Palaszczuk Government had also stepped up the fight against elder abuse in this year’s Budget.

“We’re providing a $2.7 million boost over three years to expand elder abuse prevention and seniors legal and support services to regional and remote areas, as well as the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast,” she said.

“This investment also includes $400,000 over four years from 2016-17 which has expanded the state-wide Seniors Enquiry line, enabling a strong focus on consumer protection and scams.”

Seniors Legal and Support Services Provider Caxton Legal Centre were one of many organisations across the state to mark WEAAD.

Director of Caxton Legal Centre Scott McDougall said ageist assumptions played a big part in the elder abuse his services saw on a regular basis.

“Perpetrators of elder abuse rely on older peoples’ assumed ignorance and reluctance to stand up for themselves,” he said.

“At the root of this is ageism – a belief that older people will put up with abuse and remain silent.

“Our service sees a large number of older people who are standing up for themselves by taking action against elder abuse; they show us that seniors are strong, resilient and willing to challenge the status quo.”

People who are concerned that an elderly person is being abused and in need of assistance can call the Elder Abuse helpline on 1300 651 192. For more information about the campaign, visit www.qld.gov.au/noexcuseforelderabuse

Media Contact:                             Minister O’Rourke’s office                  3719 7170