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Marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day through advocacy

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ECCV Chairperson Eddie Micallef said his organisation is acknowledging World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by raising awareness of elder abuse in multicultural communities and through increased advocacy.

“ECCV has been working closely with the Filipino, Macedonian, Chinese, Greek, Serbian, Turkish, Polish and Croatian communities to raise awareness about this issue. Our organisation will be working with several other communities over the next two years including Vietnamese and Indian.

“Culturally appropriate information has been developed, in close consultation with community advisory groups, and bilingual workers have been trained to deliver community education on elder abuse. This includes a film Within My Walls made by ECCV depicting common scenarios and overdubbed into fourteen languages.”

Mr Micallef said older people can sometimes be mistreated by people they trust, which is a defining factor in elder abuse, and that this type of mistreatment can even lead to older people becoming homeless.

“Elder abuse is vastly under-reported but the World Health Organisation estimates that up to 10 per cent of older people worldwide are affected.

“The latest figures compiled by the National Ageing Research Institute of Seniors Rights Victoria show that financial abuse and psychological and emotional abuse together are the most common forms of abuse reported by older Victorians.

“Elder abuse may be more hidden and more under-reported in ethnic communities than in the general population. Older people from migrant backgrounds may not know where to go for help or may rely more on their children following migration.

“We need culturally responsive services and ethnic community education – that’s why this project is so important. Elder abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, culture or religion.”

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence heard from key organisations about the long list of barriers limiting older people’s access to justice and services, and made a number of recommendations released in the 2016 report, which should support further work in this area.

“When culturally diverse communities talk openly about this issue, it gives people permission to speak up if they or someone they know is experiencing abuse. The needs and wellbeing of older people are as important as those of the rest of the family.” (TIW)

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