Is Elder Abuse finally coming “out of the cupboard” and are victims of elder abuse now feeling more comfortable in reporting this abuse. A recent ABC enquiry has found that new national figures show the number of calls to elder abuse help lines have doubled. In addition the Australian Law Reform Commission is conducting an inquiry into the problem. It seems advocates for the elderly want to borrow from the response to domestic violence and try to turn around attitudes.
I have been to a number of conferences where the often hidden problem of abuse of elderly people has been discussed. The main data available as to the extent of abuse is through the help lines in the different States, however it is recognised that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Financial abuse is at the top of the list, followed by emotional abuse, and it is understandable that victims find it difficult to report as the abuser is often a daughter or son. Advocates have long called for a national approach to the problem, Australia’s first Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan has pushed for this, and the current Attorney General George Brandis has agreed to this approach.
It is pleasing that the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Elder Abuse Inquiry Committee held its first meeting in May. A final report with reform recommendations will be handed to the Attorney-General next year.
You can listen to the ABC’s Michael Brissenden’s report here.