26 September 2023

New campaign to save older people

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The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has launched a new education campaign urging older Australians to safeguard themselves against elder abuse.

Aimed at elders with culturally diverse backgrounds, the campaign encourages them to organise their wills, endure powers of attorney and protect other important legal documents.

Launched on this year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Commission’s Have You Thought About Later Life? campaign forms part of the Commission’s suite of educational resources.

The AHRC defined elder abuse as when harm is done to an older person by someone they knew and trusted.

“Elder abuse can take many forms including neglect, financial exploitation, physical violence, sexual abuse and psychological abuse,” the AHRC said.

“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,” it said.

“Legal documents –such as wills, enduring powers of attorney and advance care directives – can help older people safeguard their rights and protect their choices for the future in the event their health status affects their capacity or ability to communicate effectively.”

It said however, that many older people did not have those documents.

“This means their wishes are often not understood or implemented, potentially creating confusion and conflict among family members and friends. In the worst case, it can even lead to elder abuse,” the Commission said.

It said many Australians found it difficult to think or talk about later life.

“To address this issue, the Have You Thought About Later Life? campaign provides a range of relevant educational resources in English, Mandarin, Arabic, Greek, Vietnamese and Italian,” it said.

It said the campaign was being promoted through community-specific media and by influencers within each community.

The AHRC’s Age Discrimination Commissioner, Kay Patterson said elder abuse had serious and often devastating effects on the health, wellbeing, dignity and autonomy of older Australians.

“However it manifests and regardless of the reasons, elder abuse has no place in our community,” Commissioner Patterson said.

“Future planning empowers older people to have choice and control over their senior years and reduce the risk of elder abuse,” she said.

Commissioner Patterson said that through the AHRC campaign, older people were being encouraged to speak to someone they trusted or to seek professional advice to plan ahead and get on with enjoying their lives knowing their future is more secure.

She said the Have You Thought About Later Life? campaign is to be promoted by the Commission and relevant community media and partners for the next four weeks.

The resources and information about the campaign can be accessed at the AHRC website on the PS News link.

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