A new campaign is shining a spotlight on elder abuse, and urging people to protect older New Zealanders.
Launched on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Office for Seniors’ campaign encourages friends, whānau and neighbours to look for the signs of abuse, which is often hidden in plain sight.
“Research suggests around one in 10 people will experience elder abuse. But only a very small number of cases are ever reported,” Minister for Seniors Ayesha Verrall said.
“I’m pleased this year’s campaign is highlighting the least understood, but more common, forms of abuse – such as financial and psychological.
“It’s important to understand that elder abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of their background.
“Most abuse is committed by someone close to the victim; often by a family member or a caregiver. It’s a devastating abuse of trust, and people find it hard to speak out against someone they rely on,” Ayesha Verrall said.
The key message of this year’s multimedia campaign is ‘It’s ok to help’.
“We want to encourage people to call out elder abuse when they see it,” Ayesha Verrall said.
In Budget 2020, the Elder Abuse Response Service received an additional $25 million over the following four years. This funding addressed cost pressures, and improved the coverage of services.
The service, which was established in 2017, includes a free national helpline and 28 regional providers.
If you are concerned about elder abuse call the free helpline 0800 32 668 65, text 5032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Elder abuse is often complex, and involves factors that are more likely to arise with advanced age, such as living in aged care facilities; deteriorating mental, cognitive, and physical health; and vulnerability when relying on people for daily support
The World Health Organisation estimates elder abuse affects as many as one in six people over the age of 60 worldwide
As many as three out of four cases go unreported
More than 75% of abusers are family members
The Office for Seniors is part of the Ministry of Social Development
MSD contracts providers across Aotearoa to deliver the Elder Abuse Response Service, which supports older people experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect
In June 2021, the Office for Seniors and the Joint Venture on family violence and sexual violence ran a series of hui in Auckland, Rotorua, and Christchurch focused on issues of elder abuse, as part of the consultation for the draft National Strategy and Action Plans to eliminate family violence and sexual violence in Aotearoa New Zealand