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Pandemic response presents an opportunity but also poses risks for older people

Discrimination Age Discrimination
Hands framing a heart over a sunset

Everyone in Australia is coming to terms with changes in the way we work, learn, socialise and behave. Only a few months ago we could not have imagined the challenges facing us, and the world, today.

With change comes opportunity. As Age Discrimination Commissioner, I’ve witnessed —mostly virtually—some very positive signs that Australians are helping and protecting those in our community who have need of our support.

Some enterprises are dedicating trading hours exclusively to older people and those with disability. One major supermarket, in conjunction with Australia Post, is making it easy to purchase and have care parcels delivered to those unable to go shopping. There are untold examples of neighbours and strangers helping those in need.

Fortunately, phone, post, social media and various other digital platforms are all proving valuable means for people of all ages to maintain much-needed social contact. But, with this increased use, especially of the internet, come risks for everyone, particularly young and older people. All of us need to be mindful of the need to stay safe online and the eSafety Commissioner has a valuable resource at for kids, young people, parents, women and seniors. 

Older relatives and friends also need to be made aware of the increased risk of telephone scams at this time.

Physical distancing and restrictions on our movements do pose some risks for older people—and one of them is elder abuse. We know it mostly occurs out of sight. We know it takes place in various forms: financial, physical and emotional. So, if you or someone you know has concerns, call 1800 ElderHelp
(1800 353 374).

I urge everyone to act with compassion, to stay in touch with neighbours, friends and family and heed the messages to practice physical distancing and where required isolation measures, both of which are designed to vanquish this virus.

We are all in this together.

The Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO
Age Discrimination Commissioner



Photo by Mayur Gala