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Significant Increase in Elder Abuse Cases across Victoria

Victoria Police (Vic Police) is encouraging the community to recognise the signs of elder abuse and report them quickly as the number of cases of elder abuse jumped significantly.

Vic Police said that based on the figures from the Crime Statistics Agency, the number of elder abuse victims over the age of 65 has jumped by more than 40 percent in the last five years, and in the 12 months to March this year, the state police had received a total of 5,739 reports.

Among the 5,739 victims, two-thirds were female, and one-third were male.

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Elder abuse is any harm caused to an elderly person and can take many forms, including financial, physical, emotional, psychological or social. It also often is perpetrated by someone an older person knows and trusts, such as a family member, friend or caretaker and often takes place regardless of a person’s gender, sexuality, culture, ethnicity, religion or socio-economic background.

One of the most common abuses is financial abuse, which takes place when a perpetrator takes an older person’s money, property or other assets illegally or improperly or in the form of forcing an older person to change his or her will or sign an important document.

“There could also be adult children trying to sell the house without consent, or maybe the older family member is forced into childcare or other work against their will,” said Lauren Callaway, Victoria Family Violence Command Assistant Commissioner.

The other form of elder abuse is of a physical nature, which often includes assaulting or causing injury to a family member, inflicting pain or injury by hitting, slapping, pushing or using restraints.

Other forms of abuse lie in the emotional, psychological or social area where a person’s behaviour can torment, intimidate or harass the other person, such as taking away one’s loved pet, stopping the elderly person from enjoyable social activities or simply neglecting the elderly person. It can also entail causing distress, the feeling of shame, stress or powerlessness to an older person.

Abuse Can Happen in Any Setting

Ms. Callaway said elder abuse could occur in any form and in any setting.

“Elder abuse can happen in a number of settings and can often be at the hands of a family member or even a paid carer,” she said.

“Some abuse involves psychological manipulation and intimidation—the threat that if you don’t do this or that, we will put you in an aged care home.”

She also said that all forms of abuse are an act of family violence and should be reported to police.

“All of these forms of abuse fall under the umbrella of family violence and should be reported to police because any attack on an elderly person or any other vulnerable person within our community is unacceptable,” Ms. Callaway said.

One of the reasons that this kind of abusive behaviour continues is sometimes related to the fact that elderly people are often reluctant to report family members and do not want to get them into trouble and, at the same time, depend on them for care or company.

So, Ms. Callaway is encouraging Victorian seniors or anyone in the community to pick up the phone and report any form of senior abuse.

“We encourage senior Victorians to contact police if they are being abused, as well as any community members who have concerns about possible elder abuse.”

Victoria Police is also asking seniors or anyone in Victoria to report any form of elder abuse they know so they can respond to them in time.

They can either call Triple Zero (000) or Seniors’ Rights Victoria on 1300 368 821

More information can be found online at Elder Abuse.

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