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New campaign seeks to reduce abuse of older Australians

Older Lady

Encouraging perpetrators of elder abuse to understand the impact of their actions is the focus of a new awareness campaign from the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Launched on Saturday to coincide with the 2022 International Day of Older Persons, the Elder Abuse: Shift Your Perspective campaign includes a series of videos which prompt perpetrators to consider how their behaviour might be affecting older people in their lives.

Elder abuse is when harm is done to an older person by someone they know and trust. According to the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, one in six older Australians have experienced elder abuse but only one third of victims seek help.

“Elder abuse has serious and often devastating effects on the health, wellbeing, dignity and autonomy of older people and it has no place in our community,” said Age Discrimination Commissioner the Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO.

“What makes it a sensitive issue is that perpetrators of elder abuse are often those closest to the older person, most commonly adult children but also grandchildren, friends, neighbours and even carers.

“This can make reporting abuse very difficult or even unthinkable for the older person experiencing abuse.

“So this new campaign is about helping perpetrators understand the impact of their behaviour because often perpetrators don’t realise or even think what they’re doing constitutes abuse.”

Elder abuse can take many forms and can be intentional or unintentional. It can stem from a sense of entitlement to an older person’s assets or can result from ageist attitudes about the older person’s capacity that can lead to overprotecting an older person or overriding their rights and autonomy. It can be neglect, financial exploitation, physical violence, sexual or psychological abuse.

“However it manifests and regardless of the reasons, elder abuse is never okay. I hope this new campaign will bring about a shift in perspective in perpetrators and educate all Australians about what elder abuse can look like and where to get support.”

The videos will be promoted across the Commission’s social media for the next four weeks. To view the videos and for more information about the campaign please visit: www.humanrights.gov.au/elderabuse

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