An elderly abuse hotline has been receiving so many calls that the NSW State Government has been forced to appoint caseworkers to help with referrals.
The NSW Elder Abuse Helpline and Resource Unit will now have caseworkers who will help was referring callers to the appropriate agencies and each complaint followed-up and monitored.
The trial will cost about $150 000, after it was found that the number of calls had recently doubled. This trial is based on similar programs operating in the US, Canada and New Zealand.
Between 2012-2013, the elder abuse helpline received 1200 complaints. Last year alone, it received 2120 complaints.
The hotline, which was established five years ago, has logged more than 7000 calls since its inception.
New South Wales Ageing Minister, Tanya Davies told the Daily Telegraph that she hopes the trial would help empower elderly people to say something if they are experiencing abuse.
“It’s completely unacceptable that family members, friends or complete strangers could take advantage of older people,” she said.
“Older people are often reluctant to report their own children or relatives and often don’t have the means to address these problems on their own, we hope this trial will be evidence we can change this.”
What Are People Calling About?
When analysing the 2000+ calls made last year, it was found that more than half were related to psychological abuse.
A third were complains of financial abuse – which is often from family members or carers taking advantage of elderly people’s finances.
The rest of the complaints were either of neglect of sexual abuse.
Some of the calls are about serious crimes, and are often reported to the police. Some of the perpetrators are charged with offences relating to neglect, domestic violence and intimidation.
Elder abuse can happen to anyone, and no one risk factor can explain or cause elder abuse.
In the majority of instances, there are often a combination of risk factors that contribute to the abuse. Being able to understand and identify risk factors can help people in being alert to to a situation that has the potential for abuse.
Anyone who witnesses, experiences or suspects elder abuse should call the helpline on 1800 628 221. In an emergency dial 000.
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