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The Warm Safe Home project uses the idea of housing to talk about elder abuse. Picture: Warm Safe Home project/Avital Kamil

The UN is shining a light on elder abuse

Research into the prevalence of elder abuse has found that as many as one in six older Australians experience some form of it.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies research concluded that experience of elder abuse is associated with a sense of social disconnection and poorer physical and emotional well-being.

Elder abuse can take many forms, including neglect, psychological, physical, financial and sexual abuse, and is often perpetrated by someone known to the older person.

Women, those from diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the LGBTQI+ community and those living in isolated communities are at an increased risk of experiencing elder abuse.

In a stand against elder abuse, Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) and Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria are joining forces to promote their Warm Safe Home project.

The project "uses handcrafted, small-scale model houses decorated by students, artists, seniors, carer support groups, professional organisations, and other community members to frame conversations about the rights of older people."

While making the houses people take the opportunity to discuss what makes a warm, safe home, particularly for older people.

Avital Kamil, Seniors Rights Victoria manager and principal lawyer, says that the hope for this year's campaign is to engage a wider community, for longer.

“The most recent study of elder abuse prevalence in Australia found that 14.8% of those 65 years
and over had experienced at least one recognised form of elder abuse over the previous 12
months,” Kamil said.

“We believe this public campaign will raise awareness about the signs and prevalence of elder
abuse, where to go to get help, and reinforce the right of older people to feel safe at home.”

“More than 50 groups across the state have gathered to create Warm Safe Homes, and many of
these groups will meet again to exhibit them, to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15.

WEAAD is an internationally recognised and United Nations General Assembly-supported opportunity to stand against the mistreatment of older people worldwide.

This year's WEAAD aims to shine a light on what happens to older people during an emergency. Natural disasters, pandemics and ongoing conflicts are particular threats to the safety and wellbeing of older people, who are already experiencing increased vulnerability.

The UN is calling upon governments and communities to prioritise the needs of older people when developing emergency response strategies, including education and training for responders and carers.

The UN reports that between 2019 and 2030, the proportion of people aged 60 years and older is projected to grow by 38 per cent , from 1 billion to 1.4 billion globally.

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