Friday, 7 June 2013

Tasmanian Elder Abuse statistics - 'worrying' says Minister

The ABC recently reported Tasmania's Minister for Human Services Cassy O'Connor's comments to the parliaments budget estimates committee that the 120 cases of Elder Abuse reported to March this year is worrying.

The government's  Elder Abuse helpline, launched last August had uncovered 60 cases in just four months. Given that Elder Abuse, because of the nature of the crime, is significantly under-reported, this further underlines the Minister's concerns.

The Tasmanian helpline's website describes the types of Elder Abuse:

Abuse of older people can include physical, psychological/emotional, financial, sexual and social abuse as well as intentional or unintentional neglect.

Physical abuse is where pain, injury and or physical force are inflicted upon another person. It may include hitting, slapping, pushing, burning, pinching, kicking, strangling, physical restraint, or the misuse of medication.

Psychological or emotional abuse results in an older person experiencing feelings of shame, humiliation and powerlessness. Fear is often a large factor and can be inflicted through physical and or verbal intimidation and or threats of violence, even threats of being put in a home. The withholding of affection or contact with family and friends, or the threat to do so, along with acts of continued harassment also constitutes abuse.

Financial and material abuse is where someone else misappropriates or takes control of an older person's finances, valuables and/or property, usually in a manner that benefits someone other than the older person. The older person may be forced to change their will, grant a Power of Attorney, sign over personal funds or real estate, or surrender their pension.

Sexual abuse covers a range of unwanted sexual acts, including sexual contact, rape, language or exploitative behaviour, where the older person's consent was not obtained or the consent was obtained through coercion.

Social abuse includes the forced isolation of older people, which may hide abuse from others or stop contact with others.



While we wholeheartedly congratulate the Tasmanian government on their initiatives to stop Elder Abuse we remain concerned and somewhat bewildered that, given the incidences that their new helpline is uncovering, how they can continue to flirt with the idea of Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide legislation which will be a recipe for Elder Abuse.

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