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Elder abuse is everyone’s business

Discrimination Age Discrimination
An elderly couple holding hands

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day will be marked around the globe on Saturday, June 15. The Australian Human Rights Commission is calling on each and every Australian to be on the lookout for this insidious and often undetected problem affecting too many older Australians.

“One of my roles, and many others working to address the issue of elder abuse, is to raise awareness and encourage action,” Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson said.

“Elder abuse is now at the stage in public awareness and political consciousness that child abuse was some years ago, and family violence was until relatively recently.

“Elder abuse is fuelled by ageism and the key risk factors are social isolation and dependence on others for support. The influence of these become more critical as we age,” Dr Patterson said.

Elder abuse is different from but similar to family violence in that:

  • It is hidden and underreported
  • Women are more likely to be victims than men
  • Perpetrators are often close family members

“We can, at the very least, educate and empower professionals in the medical, financial and legal fraternity to be aware of the signs and risks.

“But the most important thing we can do is apply a whole-of-community approach; where every individual, family, organisation and workplace knows how to take action and help those who are, in many cases, feeling defenceless,” Dr Patterson said.

The free Elder Abuse Helpline is accessible on 1800 353 374 (1800 ELDERHelp) and calls are diverted to your state or territory for help and advice.

As Dr Patterson says: “Elder abuse is everyone’s business”.

Dr Patterson will present the keynote address at the Seniors Rights Service Lifting up Voices: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event, held at Level 4, 418A Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills, NSW, at 10:30am on Friday, June 14, and is available for interview.

Media contact: Georgia Waters 0428 263 830 or