The West Australian government has released a ten-year strategy to help prevent elder abuse, which is estimated to affect up to 49,000 people in the state.
The WA Strategy to Respond to the Abuse of Older People contains four main pillars built around education, support, safeguards and effective responses.
It’s estimated that as many as 14 per cent of older Western Australians – between 7,000 and 49,000 seniors – are experiencing or have experienced abuse.
Those figures are anticipated to increase, with people aged 65 and over expected to make up 20 per cent of the population by 2050.
There are currently around 350,000 older Western Australians and the number of those aged 85 and over is expected to double over the next three decades.
Indigenous people among most vulnerable
Indigenous people will be among the most vulnerable, the strategy says, largely because of cultural obligations to share resources and lack of culturally safe and linguistically appropriate services.
The report says early identification is critical and service providers are well placed to detect signs of abuse.
“It is therefore important that they have the knowledge and capability to identify the signs, symptoms and behaviours associated with elder abuse, and are aware of available information, support services and avenues for reporting abuse,” it says.
It also says that recognising the demand on carers and providing them with information about elder abuse, as well as supporting them to manage daily stress, is critical in preventing and addressing elder abuse.
The strategy pledges to fund further research on elder abuse and the relationship of carer stress to abuse, and to improve data collection and sharing.
WA Minister for Seniors and A
geing Mick Murray says the strategy provides a blueprint for the action needed to stamp out the abuse of older people and will complement the Federal Government’s national elder abuse plan.
“I implore all Western Australians to do their part in helping to change attitudes and behaviours towards older people,” he said.