Social Futures supports campaign to stamp out elder abuse

Written byChristine Tondorf
Published on21 Jun, 2022

RELEASED June 13, 2022

The not-for-profit organisation Social Futures is supporting a campaign to prevent the abuse of people who are elderly or have disabilities in northern New South Wales.

In 2020, 93 cases of abuse of people with a disability and the elderly were reported across the local government areas of Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore and Richmond Valley, while in the Tweed region there were 52 cases.

In more than three-quarters of the reports, the victim was an older person.

Social Futures’ project co-ordinator Heather Tannock said the perpetrator was usually someone the person knew and trusted, such as a family member, friend, professional or paid caregiver.

“Often neither the perpetrator nor person impacted recognises that what is occurring is abuse,” she said.

On June 15 Social Futures ran a workshop explaining how to be on the look out for elder abuse.

The workshops looked at:
• how to respond to concerns of
• abuse, neglect and exploitation of an older person

Ms Tannock said New South Wales had an Ageing and Disability Commission, an independent government agency that promotes the rights of the elderly and adults with disability to ensure they live free from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“The Commission is funding this campaign, promoting awareness of elder abuse in our communities, and this will include newspaper advertising.

“It also has an ongoing Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline that you can call for information, support or to make a report.”   

The phone number for the Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline is 1800 628 221.   

Ms Tannock said the Commission has produced new material outlining the basic rights of the elderly and adults with a disability.  

These include:   

  • Control and access of their own money  
  • Attend appointments without another person  
  • Choose to see family and friends when they want  
  • Have easy access to clean clothes, food and their own medication.  

“Anyone with concerns that these rights are being denied to someone, can call the Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline,” Ms Tannock said.    

“The helpline will tell you what services are available to help, and you speak with a trained professional. This professional can assist you to make an anonymous report and be heard without judgement.”   

Ms Tannock said in Northern NSW, the majority cases of abuse against an older person or a person with a disability are reported by a paid worker.    

“Abuse can happen in many settings, such as the person’s home. It happens to both men and women and to people from all sorts of backgrounds.”   

The Australian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse defines elder abuse as any act occurring within a relationship where there is an implication of trust, which results in harm to an older person.   

Ms Tannock said many types of abuse can impact vulnerable adults, such as financial abuse (misusing or using another person’s money without consent), psychological (insults, threats, pressure), physical (pushing, shoving and injuring) and sexual (non-consensual acts).   

“Another type of abuse is neglect, when a person’s basic needs are not met, and this includes not providing food, clothes and shelter. Neglect is deliberately denying a vulnerable person their needs, which leaves them exposed to harm.”   

Ms Tannock said there are signs that a vulnerable person is being abused.   

“You may have noticed an older person or adult with a disability being told how to spend their money or unable to explain injuries on their body, or unable to speak freely with you, or they may come out and indicate someone they know is hurting them,” she said.   

Ms Tannock said anyone can call the Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline on 1800 628 221, and if you choose, you can be anonymous when you phone.  

The Ageing and Disability Commission’s website can be found at::