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There's no excuse for elder abuse

We don’t want to believe that our son or daughter, or brother or sister, or grandchild or cousin could be abusing us or an older relative. We don’t want to think older people we know are not being well cared for, especially if it is by a family member.

Unfortunately, it does happen and the number of reports made to the Elder Abuse Helpline is increasing.

Helpline staff and other frontline elder abuse prevention workers have told us the most common excuses people make to justify their abuse. These are the excuses you will see on this website, on buses, in shopping centres, clubs, medical centres and online throughout the 2016 There’s no excuse for elder abuse campaign.

By using the language of perpetrators to engage those who have heard the excuses, or observed different types of abuse, the campaign aims to encourage and guide people to get help.

Sometimes, we accept excuses people make, because it is easier than facing the truth.

We may think the abuse is not that bad because the signs can be subtle and hard to detect.

It doesn’t matter how easy it is to believe the excuses, or tell ourselves it is OK, there’s no excuse for elder abuse.

If we excuse elder abuse, we are leaving older, vulnerable Queenslanders at ongoing risk of harm.

We must recognise the signs of all types of elder abuse, including those not as visible as physical abuse, and call out the excuses made by those committing elder abuse. We must work together because everyone in Queensland has a right to be safe and to be treated with dignity and respect.

The excuses

‘It’s going to be my money anyway.’

‘The house is my payment for looking after mum.’

‘Dad should know I’ve always had a temper.’

Have you heard these excuses? Have you heard others? The excuses tell of the sense of entitlement many perpetrators feel when they commit elder abuse, particularly financial abuse. Often, something will have gone wrong in their life and they feel like they’re owed a better life. They may feel they need it more than the older person and say, ‘Why should I have to wait for the money I’ll inherit when I need it now?’ The abuser’s personal situation and older person’s financial position is irrelevant. There’s never an acceptable reason for pension skimming or stealing someone’s money.

Financial abuse can also include forced asset transfer. Abusers may say ‘I’ll never be able to afford my own home but if I move in with mum or dad and care for them then I’ll deserve the house. It’ll be my payment for looking after them.’ Decisions about inheritance are up to the individual. No one should ever be pressured into transferring ownership of their home to a live-in carer or be forced into changing their will. It’s elder abuse.

Intimidating or bullying an older person can be as scary as assaulting them. This emotional abuse can never be excused, although those who work in elder abuse prevention tell us that abusers often try to blame the older person instead of taking responsibility. They may claim ‘Mum always pushes me too far’ but it is up to the perpetrator to make sure they do not cross the line into abusive behaviour.

No matter what the circumstances, no matter how difficult things are in the perpetrator’s life, there’s no excuse for elder abuse. If you know someone who is experiencing elder abuse, find out how you can help.

Even if you haven’t seen or heard elder abuse personally, we want everyone in Queensland to know there’s no excuse for elder abuse. There are some ways everyone in Queensland can take action to raise awareness of elder abuse.

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Take action

We want to start a community conversation about elder abuse so as many people as possible know there’s no excuse for elder abuse. We can’t do it alone so we’re hoping you can help spread the word.

  • Organise an event in your local area to support World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June.
  • Display There’s no excuse for elder abuse posters and helpcards at your workplace to help raise awareness of elder abuse. Free posters and helpcards will be available to order soon.
  • Encourage your work colleagues to wear purple around 15 June. Purple is the official colour of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and denotes wisdom, dignity, independence and creativity.
  • Employers can increase awareness of elder abuse by providing their staff with information on how to support those affected and where to access help.
  • If you work in the media you can play an important role in raising awareness of elder abuse and reinforcing the message that there’s no excuse for elder abuse.
  • Encourage your local newspaper or radio station to write stories about elder abuse.
  • Councils can lead the way in their community by running local projects focusing on elder abuse prevention or establishing a taskforce bringing together community leaders to start the conversation and promote anti-elder abuse messages. 

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Acknowledgements

The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services would like to acknowledge the contribution made to the development of this campaign by the UnitingCare Community Elder Abuse Prevention Unit, Queensland Police Service and Seniors Legal and Support Service.

The UnitingCare Community Elder Abuse Prevention Unit has also provided expert advice during the development of this website including providing personal stories.

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Contacts

Elder Abuse Helpline

9am–5pm, Monday to Friday

1300 651 192 (Queensland only)

(07) 3867 2525 (rest of Australia)

This Queensland Government funded helpline is run by UnitingCare Community.

Free anonymous and confidential advice for anyone experiencing elder abuse or who suspects someone they know may be experiencing elder abuse.

In an emergency call the police on triple zero (000).

Other support services

Theres no excuse for elder abuse video

Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.