The Federal government has launched an elder abuse hotline to support older Australians who may be experiencing abuse or neglect.
“To any older person who is out there thinking ‘I’m not sure where my money is going, I don’t know what’s happening to my medication, I feel concerned that people are controlling my life’, the number to ring is 1800 353 374 and there will be people who are experienced in their jurisdiction to help them,” said Age Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Kay Patterson.
The hotline is part of a package of measures aimed at supporting older Australians facing elder abuse, and was launched last week by Dr Patterson and the Attorney-General, Christian Porter.
The $18 million package, titled the ‘National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians’, will include five specialist elder abuse units, three health justice partnerships, and four case management and mediation services, and will be conducted as a trial over four years.
Every state and territory will have at least one trial site starting before the end of June this year.
The package has five goals:
- Enhancing the understanding of elder abuse,
- Improving community awareness and access to information,
- Strengthening service responses,
- Planning for future decision-making, and
- Strengthening safeguards for vulnerable older adults.
“Australia’s first national plan to respond to elder abuse is an important step in tackling this insidious problem,” said Dr Patterson.
“We know that elder abuse exists. Now, we need to make sure those who fear they may be at risk or are already being abused, know that they can call the hotline and will be redirected to the relevant helpline in their state or territory,” said Dr Patterson.
The Attorney-General said, “There’s no doubt that a key benchmark of any society is how it treats and protects its older citizens, particularly those who may be vulnerable to abuse in whatever form it takes, emotional, physical or financial.”
Elder abuse hotline number is 1800 353 374
“1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) will connect callers from anywhere in Australia to a state or territory phone line where they can discuss potential or actual elder abuse and get the information and referrals they need to protect themselves,” the Attorney-General said.
“We have all heard through media or directly, stories of vulnerable older people being subject to financial abuse, all too often by family members,” the Attorney-General said.
“The Morrison Government is determined to do all it can to protect older people at risk of, or experiencing such abuse,” he said.
185,000 older Australians experiencing abuse or neglect
Mr Porter said the government will undertake the first national study of the prevalence of elder abuse in Australia.
“Comparable overseas studies show that up to 12 per cent of older people experience abuse,” the Attorney-General said.
“Based on a prevalence of 5 per cent in Australia, it has been estimated that as many as 185,000 older people experience some form of abuse or neglect nationally each year,” he said.
For more information you can visit the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians website, or call the hotline on 1800 353 374.