Let’s work together to eliminate elder abuse

It’s horrifying to hear stories of elder abuse in our community, but it’s important that we talk about elder abuse, so we can work together to prevent it.

The abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, financial and psychological abuse.

In some cases, the abuse is deliberate, while in others it is the result of neglect or a lack of understanding about how to care for and protect an elderly person.

Fortunately, Services Australia’s Aged Care Specialist Officers (ACSOs) are making a real difference by being aware of and supporting older Australians in vulnerable situations.

They regularly link customers and their concerned loved ones to vital supports and services in the community, including social workers.

Aged care specialists

Services Australia’s aged care specialists have found that neglect or abuse can sometimes come to light when speaking with an older person about their aged care needs.

They have a crucial role to play in this area with the skills and knowledge to help when older people in vulnerable situations need support.

One of the key ways ACSOs can support older people in vulnerable situations is by providing information and education to family members and friends who care for and want the best for the older person.

Information about respite, or access to a Home Care Package, can reduce the stress the family is experiencing. This is crucial if the older person is affected by dementia or another chronic health condition.

Of course, preventing elder abuse is not just the responsibility of ACSOs and other workers in aged care. It’s something we all need to take seriously.

Whatever the cause of elder abuse, it’s clear we need to do our bit as a community to prevent it from happening.

If you see the signs of elder abuse – don’t look the other way.

Anyone can call the free phone number 1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) to get information and support to prevent elder abuse.

The phone line has been set up in collaboration with state and territory governments. Of course, in an emergency always phone triple zero (000).

Talk about it

If you have a concern about the care you or someone else is getting in aged care, it’s important to talk about it.

You can make a complaint on the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner website and they’ll investigate.

Preventing elder abuse is a crucial part of recognising the valuable contributions of our seniors and ensuring they are treated with the dignity, respect and care they deserve.

Services Australia’s ACSOs are a free service available for face-to-face appointments in more than 80 service centre locations nationally.

Staff in all Services Australia service centres can help people with general information about My Aged Care services. They can help connect people with specialised assistance, including using My Aged Care’s online or phone service.

Find out more at servicesaustralia.gov.au/myagedcarefacetoface.

Hank Jongen is general manager, Services Australia.

Have you ever been worried about elder abuse in your community? Was anything done about it? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

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  1. A praiseworthy initiative, no doubt, but I think Mr. Jongen should consider that Centrelink itself is guilty of elder abuse in the way it processes many age pension applications. Their rules and regulations are so complex that it is unrealistic to expect that the majority of applicants can find their way through the maze without professional help. My application has been under consideration now for 9 months with endless requests for further information. There seems to be no clear rationale for how they go about this task. It seems to me to be all over the place. Their communication with applicants is woeful and it is virtually impossible to get through to them on the telephone. The level of frustration and humiliation that I, and many others have experienced, is very very regrettable. In fact I think that the high level of distress caused to many by the present system is a national disgrace . It is in desperate need of reform. Australians deserve far better than this!

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