Action plan to tackle elder abuse

An Action Plan has been devised to improve responses for older women affected by domestic and family violence in South Australia.

The plan, launched on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) at a SA Aged Rights Advocacy Service WEAAD conference at Glenelg (on 15 June 2018), was developed by Flinders University researchers in consultation with a wide range of service providers.

Domestic and family violence affects a significant number of women aged 50+ in South Australia, yet help is fragmented – and as the state’s population ages, the numbers of distressed older women are expected to rise.

Developed in collaboration between Flinders University, Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS), Women’s Safety Services SA (WSSSA), and UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (UCWB) Inner Southern Homelessness Service, the Action Plan provides the groundwork to improve governments and service provider responses to older women experiencing domestic and family violence in Adelaide.

Flinders College of Nursing and Health Sciences researcher Dr Lana Zannettino says the Action Plan aims to address the gaps and create a more seamless network of specialist services and skilled support workers for older women covering domestic violence, aged-care support and homelessness.

“A lot is unreported and hidden, although the latest ABS figures show there has been a significant increase in the number of older women who are homeless, and this is likely due to domestic and family violence,” she says.

The Action Plan recommends 20 key actions for future policy and practice responses from government, service providers and community, advocating for a “one-stop shop” model where older women do not need to keep re-telling their story to each service they access.

Key recommendations include:

  • Increasing crisis housing options and providing immediate funds to obtain private rental accommodation.
  • Possible introduction of mandatory reporting of abuse of older people.
  • Legislative changes to improve justice for victims of domestic and family violence.
  • Removal of barriers such as eligibility criteria, long waiting times and unnecessary system delays for older women’s access to government services.

Research data collected through interviews with service providers and women found that older women experiencing domestic and family violence face many social barriers to getting help – especially older Aboriginal and CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) women who fear disconnection from their communities.

The ‘Improving Responses to Older Women affected by Domestic and Family Violence in Adelaide, South Australia: An Action Plan’ was compiled by fellow Flinders University researchers Dr Carolyn Gregoric, Emeritus Professor Jeffrey Fuller, Associate Professor Alison Hutton and Dr Yvonne Parry along with representatives of the key agencies ARAS, WSSSA, UCWB and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), including Dorris Gioffre, Janine Haynes, Wendy Radbone, Sue Underhill and Milenka Vasekova.



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