New crime figures reveal that older Victorians are falling victim to sex crimes while in aged care in alarming numbers.

There were 696 sexual offences committed against older Victorians in the 10 years to 31 December 2017.

Just over one-third of those sexual offences were against victims over the age of 85 years.

And 60 per cent of sexual offences took place at a nursing home or healthcare facility.

Almost 10 per cent of sexual offences were committed by a current or former partner, or a family member.

Nearly 30 per cent of sexual offences occurred at home.

These numbers, supplied by Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency, shock because they illustrate the lack of protection – and care – many of our seniors are receiving, even those in residential aged care.

If a society is to be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members, how do we look now?

Victorian data “the tip of the iceberg”

“That’s the tip of the iceberg,” says Catherine Barrett, director, Celebrate Ageing.

“We know violence against women is happening. Why would it stop when women turn 65?” she said.

Recent government data revealed there were 348 cases of alleged or suspected sexual assaults in residential aged care facilities across Australia during the 2016-17 financial year.

Ms Barrett said aged care staff need to be better trained to understand sexual assault against the elderly in order to have the ability to identify it. It’s important that they understand it is a real issue in aged care, and ideally prevent it from happening.

The Royal Commission will no doubt investigate cases of sexual assault in aged care, she said.

“The lid’s off now, we’re at the point of no return,” she said.

Ms Barrett launched The Power Project in February this year, an online resource that aims to raise awareness and educate the community about the secual abuse of older women. People can also share their stories through the Project.

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