Queensland’s peak legal body has launched a trial designed to raise public awareness of physical, emotional and financial abuse being suffered in silence by society’s vulnerable elderly community.
Queensland Law Society President Christine Smyth today (Wed June 14) announced a campaign to raise the issue of “Elder Abuse” by launching a trial that encouraged potential victims to disclose suspected abuse with their most often trusted confidante – their local doctor.
The Society’s trial, run with the assistance of the Australian Medical Association of Queensland, will enlist the help of general practitioners and staff from 315 clinics to look out for the symptoms of elder abuse and by referring patients to support services such as “Elder Abuse Helpline” and QLS’s Find a Solicitor Service.
Ms Smyth said abuse of the elderly takes many forms, in particular physical, emotional and financial.
“Our vulnerable senior citizens should not suffer from abuse in any form. Elder abuse is real, it is insidious and can happen to anyone across all walks of life,” Ms Smyth said.
“Imagine feeling isolated, alone, taken advantage of and perhaps as if you were a burden to your family.
“Unfortunately this is what many elder Australians feel each and every day, in a time of their lives when they should be enjoying the fruits of their labour.
“Our elderly deserve better. In a society beset with violence, we must protect the vulnerable. It is our duty.
“Financial elder abuse. Emotional elder abuse. Physical elder abuse. Sexual elder abuse. Neglect.
“Do those who raised us deserve this?”
In launching the trial, QLS has produced materials and resources for GPs.
Ms Smyth said it was hoped that after a successful trial the program could be extended throughout Queensland and the rest of Australia.
“Our genuine wish is that this trial will create a robust public debate to help de-stigmatise an issue many elderly people feel uncomfortable speaking about,” Ms Smyth said.
“The Not Now, Not Ever Report was a springboard for community dialogue and action around the scourge and shame of domestic and family violence.
“The same report recognised elder abuse as a form of domestic violence.
“On the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we wish to highlight the issue of elder abuse and ensure that our elderly are included in this important dialogue.
“As a society I think we also need more than dialogue, we need action. We need to say to those who have suffered or are suffering from elder abuse that you are not alone, you do not deserve this and it is not your fault.
“As a profession, we must hold true to our duty to help the vulnerable, those who cannot help