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June 26, 2013

Silent Crime Wave Targets Older Australians

24 JUN 2013
SOURCE: KAREN ASHFORD, SBS

As Australia's aged population grows, so too does crime against them, elder abuse is estimated to affect as many as one in ten seniors.
(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)
It's an age-old problem - literally - and it's getting worse.
As Australia's aged population grows, so too does crime against them.
Elder abuse is estimated to affect as many as one in ten seniors.
A national conference in Adelaide is urging tougher policies and new laws to tackle what's often a silent crime wave.
"People can be abused regardless of their education, their financial stability, where they live, what culture they come from - it's something that affects potentially every older Australian."
Marilyn Crabtree heads the Aged Rights Advocacy Service in South Australia.
Since its establishment in 1990, the Service has seen a steady increase in abuse of older Australians.
"Well they talk about one in 20 over the age of 65, however if people are a bit older, the "old" old and they're more frail, then their likelihood would increase to one in ten or even more depending on the level of dependency and vulnerability and frailty of the older person."

Marilyn Crabtree says tracking the type and prevalence of abuse across the nation is difficult because each state and territory has different laws, different assessment procedures and different reporting standards.
"It's an exploitation of the older person's rights. And financial abuse would have to be one of the most commonly reported forms of abuse that we see, and usually psychological abuse would go along with that because people intimidate you, you know, they don't just ask nicely can you please give me a cheque for $10,000: they intimidate you into giving them the money."
Those abusers can be relatives, carers - or strangers.
Frequently, aged parents are stripped of their savings by children who have Power of Attorney over their affairs - some 44 per cent of elders suffer financial abuse.
Carers too might take financial advantage of their charges, sometimes intimidating or physically assaulting them to get what they want - about 33 per cent of elder abuse is psychological and about 10 per cent is estimated to be physical.

And the elderly are more vulnerable than most to predations by strangers, from scammers and thieves posing as door-to-door salespeople, by phone or online.

Megan Mitchell, from the Australian Human Rights Commission, told the conference that the very old, women and those in minority groups are at greatest risk.
"Two important minority groups that require more attention and support are culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and people with a disability. Older people from these groups may have additional vulnerabilities arising from continuing discrimination during their lives."

Abridged
SOURCE:       SBS NEWS AU.
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