24 February, 2021

An ABC article alleging the sexual abuse of an aged care resident in Rockhampton by a worker is sadly not uncommon.

RAQ’s Elder Abuse Prevention and Support Service assists people at risk of, or who are experiencing, elder abuse, in locations around Queensland, including in Rockhampton.

RAQ’s Regional Manager Val Holden said older people were increasingly seeking support to cope with cases of financial, social and sexual abuse.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns in some areas, including in aged care and nursing home facilities, have resulted in heightened social isolation and in some cases, risk of abuse,” she said.

“As our population continues to age in a time when many Australians are also navigating a more challenging economy and other societal pressures, we expect rates of elder abuse will continue to rise.

“It’s more important than ever to ensure older people know the risks, know their rights, and know how to seek support if they experience any of the wide range of behaviours that constitute abuse – education and knowledge is so powerful.”

In the aged-care context, it can often be difficult for residents to access elder abuse programs and support because of facility rules or family intervention.

“Elderly people have a right to quality care and access to services and education programs to prevent abuse from ever happening in aged care facilities – the protection of Australia’s elderly from abuse is urgent and requires an immediate response,” Ms Holden said.

RAQ works with communities to encourage them to build positive social connections between older people and their families and friends.

“Social connection provides a protective factor against elder abuse – people who are connected and visible are less vulnerable,” Ms Holden said.

“But for many older Australians, it’s not enough, so we continue to work closely with older people in the community to provide dedicated support with case management, safety plans, counselling and mediation, as well as providing referrals to legal advice and reporting of abuse when required.”

Learn more about elder abuse, understanding the signs and how to respond, and our Senior Relationships Services here.