Protecting the elderly against abuse

Page MP Ian Causley (left) presents Northern Rivers Social Development Council chief executive Tim Childs with a crime prevention certificate for a new program to protect the elderly from abuse.

A program being developed in Lismore that aims to reduce the risk of abuse amongst elderly Australians has been recognised with a crime prevention certificate before its even begun.

Run by the Northern Rivers Social Development Council (NRSDC), the program aims to ensure people over the age of 65 are living in a safe environment free from neglect or harm.

NRSDCs chief executive Tim Childs said that nationally, between three and four per cent of people living at home who were aged 65 and over suffered abuse and/or neglect.

In 25 years time were looking at one in three of the population over the age of 65, so a significant number of the North Coast population will potentially be exposed to this kind of abuse, he said. Abuse can be both physical and psychological. For example when a daughter and her partner care for an elderly parent and she changes partners, that partner may not like caring for them so the parent is forced into an aged-care facility, their level of care declines significantly, or theyre left alone.

The program involves a framework and set of tools for aged-care service providers, carers and family members to help them identify abuse, and also provides strategies for intervention.

We know from research here and overseas that the issue has been in the community for a long time, but were now recognising the extent of it and we know the care of older family members is set to increase, he said. A lot of work in this area has already been done on the Northern Rivers and we are developing further protocols for this program, which we hope will be taken up nationally by the federal Attorney-General.

The NRSDC expects to launch the program early next year.

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