Submission to Select Committee into elder abuse

14 November 2017

 

The Hon Nick Goiran MLC

Chairman

Select Committee into Elder Abuse

Legislative Council

Parliament House

PERTH WA 6000

 

RE: Greysafe submission – Select Committee into Elder Abuse

 

We welcome the opportunity to provide a submission into the Legislative Council’s inquiry into elder abuse.

 

 Greysafe is a not for profit organisation that works to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians. Greysafe aims to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians by:

 

  • Raising awareness of the issues through high impact campaigns and advocacy
  • Developing initiatives to help end the social isolation of older Australians
  • Empowering and supporting victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation by acting as an advocate and voice for the victims.
  • Providing a range of programs and services to assist older Australians to feel safe and valued.

VISION

 

Our vision is for Australia to lead the world in the protection and empowerment of its older citizens, no matter their health or social status.

 

MISSION

 

  • to investigate, expose and raise awareness of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians.
  • to educate the community of the need to take action to prevent abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians.
  • to act of behalf of older Australians at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation through strong representation to Government

 

Focus of this submission in relation to the Terms of Reference

 

Greysafe sees its role as doing more than just highlighting the problems and issues. We aim to put forward ideas and initiatives to help protect and empower older Australians. We take seriously our role as a trusted advocate for older Australians that have experienced, or are at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

 

For this submission, we have focussed our attention on items h) and i) in the Terms of Reference.

 

 

National summit to develop elder abuse action plan

 

We believe there is an urgent need to convene a national summit on elder abuse in order to develop a national action plan and timeline for implementing a range of urgently needed reforms, many that were highlighted by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in their June 2017 report into elder abuse in Australia.

 

There is undoubtedly much good work taking place behind the scenes across state based agencies agencies in response to the ALRC review. However, it is imperative that in the interests of transparency and getting the community engaged in helping address elder abuse in this country, the summit should be attended by all heads of Australian Governments, elder abuse legal and financial experts, regulators, advocates representing impacted families and victims , community service group leaders and key industry leaders.

 

We believe that any action plan can only succeed if there is input from political leaders, public and private sector experts and grass roots advocates with on the ground experience of elder abuse who can help lead the change needed at a local community level. To that end, Greysafe stands ready to work alongside governments, agencies and sector specialists to ensure the community is brought along on the journey to stamp out elder abuse.

 

For our part, we have already spent time developing some key recommendations that could help shape an agenda should you proceed with the idea of a national action summit.

 

This includes:

 

  • The need to toughen laws to protect older Australians suspected to be at risk of or the recipient of elder abuse. This includes making elder abuse a criminal offence.
  • The establishment of a National Elder Abuse Taskforce made up of prominent legal, finance, medical and social welfare experts and charged with the responsibility of overseeing new national standards and laws to help identify and stamp out elder abuse in the home and in aged care.
  • The need for an urgent and definitive study to take place to determine the actual number of Australians being subjected to elder abuse and those at risk of elder abuse. At present, we have no idea of the exact number of older Australians being subjected to elder abuse.
  • The creation of an ongoing national public awareness campaign, funded by government, on recognising the signs of elder abuse and how to help those at risk.
  • The establishment of a twice yearly forum where elder abuse victims, families and advocates are brought together with legislators and National Elder Abuse Task Force  members to check progress of initiatives and discuss practical solutions to eradicate elder abuse.
  • The implementation of two ‘End the Social Isolation’ trial programs in each state of Australia. One trial to take place in the city and one in a rural/regional area. Social isolation and exclusion is a factor in elder abuse. To be able to begin to address elder abuse in the home, where possible, we need to encourage victims to get out of the house and away from perpetrators and towards individuals and organisations that can help. The pilot program would see GPs, lawyers, financial advisers, counsellors and service clubs come together and meet with potential victims and socially isolated older Australians on a regular basis at a venue provided by local councils.
  • The establishment of ongoing professional development, training and educational seminars to highlight the signs of elder abuse. These education modules would become mandatory and be undertaken by bank staff, medical professionals and other organisations that have regular interactions with vulnerable older Australians.
  • The development of education programs in schools around the theme of ‘Respect, Care and Connection with the Elderly’.
  • Engage Australia’s community service clubs such as Lions, Rotary, Probus and Neighbourhood Watch to work with the National Elder Abuse Taskforce to help lead the community change required to identify and stamp out elder abuse. Service clubs have the connections and volunteers available to be able to help lead the ‘End the Social Isolation’ and ‘Respect and Reconnect with the Elderly’ projects through their interaction with older Australians in their local communities.

 

Greysafe believes the summit should be about coming up with meaningful and tangible actions. It should not be another talkfest where delegates leave the summit only having talked about the problems. We all know the problems, we now need an action plan and timelines put in place to come up with solutions.

 

Replace failing aged care random inspection scheme with Grey Guardians

 

For some time now there have been numerous reports in the media about previously accredited Aged Care facilities subsequently being found to have failed to meet acceptable standards of care.

 

Despite recent changes in relation to the residential aged care accreditation process announced by the Federal Minister for Aged Care, we believe they don’t go far enough in relation to improving transparency in the system.

 

We propose a plan that our organisation believes would go some way to will go some way towards rebuilding community trust in the system.

 

The plan – that would see retired medical professionals and community advocates undertake random inspections of aged care facilities – is becoming increasingly urgent in the wake of a new emerging battle between bureaucrats and the aged care industry over who will pay for random inspections to check that residents are receiving adequate care.

 

The power struggle between the aged care industry and the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) is extraordinary at a time when reportable assaults in aged care facilities have increased over the past three years and in the wake of disturbing media reports of abuse in aged care and  horrific examples of poor care and standards in accredited aged care facilities.

 

Not only are we hearing of new reports of accredited facilities subsequently been found to be substandard, but reportable assaults in aged care facilities have increased for the past three years.

 

You will be well aware, the last publicly available report released by the Federal Government in 2015/16, showed that nearly 3,000 aged care residents were victims of reportable assaults.

These figures are distressing enough but clearly, if the media are uncovering poor standards of care at facilities that have been previously ticked off and accredited by AACQA, then the accreditation and random inspection process is broken.

 

Some in the community and many staff that work in the system have lost confidence in residential aged care. Yet the aged care peak bodies and the regulator’s response is to start a slanging match over who should pay for a random inspection that would cost a facility between $2,000 and $5,000 once a year, if it took place at all.

 

Under the new model being proposed by Greysafe:

 

  • AACQA would retain control and implementation of the ‘tick the box’ aged care accreditation scheme but random inspections would no longer be part of AACQA’s charter.
  • The number of random inspections would increase. The Federal Government would set a minimum quota for the number of inspections needing to take place across all parts of Australia.
  • The Federal Government would call for expressions of interest from retired doctors, nurses, social workers and trained professional advocates to form locally based teams of Grey Guardians who would undertake more regular random inspections to both assess and report on the care and condition of aged care residents and the facilities themselves.
  • The Grey Guardians would report into an independent office separate from the AACQA.
  • Guardians would be locally based in and around their communities, be retired or semi retired and not currently employed as an aged care assessor with AACQA.
  • Guardians would be paid a small stipend to cover costs and would be available to conduct inspections, if required, out of office hours and on weekends. (At present, random inspections by AACQA assessors generally take place between the hours of nine to five, Monday to Friday.)
  • Interviews with residents, their families and nursing staff would become the first priority for random inspection visits. At present, under the AACQA managed system, discussions with families and residents forms the smallest percentage of an aged care accreditation assessment.

To support the implementation of the Grey Guardian scheme and improve transparency in the aged care accreditation and inspection process, we believe there should be a number of other changes implemented that will go some way towards rebuilding community trust in the system. They include:

 

  • Each quarter, the government would take out advertising space in major newspapers and publish a report card, for the previous three months, of the number of assaults in aged care and the details of aged care facilities that have failed to meet 100% compliance with accreditation and random inspection checks.
  • In the newspaper report card, publish the numbers of random inspections conducted during the quarter, including the names of the facilities inspected and the findings.

We believe this new plan is a win-win for the government and age care residents and their families. There would be an immediate and significant increase in the number of random inspections taking place at aged care facilities across Australia staffed by retired professionals with the expertise and availability to be on site more often. Most importantly, by publicly reporting inspection findings quarterly in the national media and seeing immediately where improvements have been made, or need to be rectified, Australians might start regaining confidence in their residential aged care system.

 

Yours sincerely

Michael Riley

CEO

 

Call for banks to hire elder protection officers as branch closures put elderly at risk of abuse

Media Release: 13 November, 2017

An advocacy group for older Australians has called on Australia’s big four banks to train and retain dedicated elder protection officers in branches amid fears recently announced bank job cuts and technology changes will put many older customers at greater risk of elder financial abuse.

Greysafe, a not for profit organisation that works to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians, will lobby the Australians Bankers Association (ABA) and the CEO’s of Australia’s major banks asking them to do more on elder financial abuse and commit to employing dedicated elder protection officers in branches.

It comes in the wake of a new advertising and PR campaign titled – “The Banks Belong to You” – launched today by the ABA aimed at warding off calls by some political parties for a banking Royal Commission.

“Vulnerable Australians aged over 65 certainly don’t feel the banks belong to them. According to APRA, there were over 300 bank branch closures across Australia last year and in rural areas alone, the four major banks have closed at least 38 branches across Australia this year,” said Greysafe CEO Michael Riley.

“It is over a year ago that the ABA asked banks to be more proactive in heading off potential elder abuse. Yet this appears to have been met with silence by bank CEO’s who seem more focussed on delivering record profits for shareholders, developing multi-million dollar advertising and PR campaigns and cutting staff from branches.”

“Financial abuse is one of the most common types of elder abuse.  Among thousands of calls to elder abuse help lines each year, over a third relate to financial abuse. We’ve heard many reports of perpetrators spending the money of their victims without permission, forging signatures or forcing older Australians to sign bank forms.”

Mr Riley said elder abuse advocates feared an announcement in recent weeks by NAB Chief Andrew Thorburn that his bank would axe thousands of staff, would lead to the other big four banks doing the same, leaving vulnerable older Australians at the mercy of manipulative family members or ‘trusted’ friends and carers.

“Cuts to frontline branch staff numbers and services are going to put older customers, many who struggle with technology and rely on bank staff to help them with their banking needs, at a greater risk of exploitation and abuse from perpetrators.”

“In the wake of cuts to staff and branches,  the least bank CEO’s could commit to is having a dedicated and properly trained elder protection officer employed in every bank branch to ensure older Australians were able to access the services they need, and importantly, be protected from the risk of financial abuse.”

Mr Riley said that when faced with new technology and change, older Australians will often put trust in a family member to help or take control of their banking thus putting them at greater risk of financial abuse and manipulation.

“Having a dedicated and properly trained elder protection officer in branches for all customers over 65 will minimise the risk of elder abuse and leave banks less exposed to potentially adverse determinations and compensation payments,” Mr Riley said.

“The banks can’t have it both ways, on the one hand they are too big to fail in times of crisis, and are provided government guarantees. On the other hand, this protection must also entail a social licence to provide vital services to communities in a manner which is not only determined by profitability of branches.”

“ABA CEO Anna Bligh is scheduled to speak at the 5th National Elder Abuse Conference in Sydney in February so we will ask her to provide an update on what action has been taking place since November 2016, when the ABA recommended that banks develop a framework for the identification and escalation of suspected cases of financial abuse.”

Older Victorians told to beware new tradie scam

A victim of scam tradesmen is featuring in a new TV and video campaign to alert others to be aware.

Greysafe welcomes new initiatives to target elder abuse

Media Release: 1 October, 2017

An advocacy group for older Australians has welcomed today’s announcement by the Attorney-General, George Brandis, that the Federal Government will contribute $15 million towards a range of new initiatives to tackle elder abuse.

Greysafe, a not for profit organisation that works to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians, last week wrote to the Attorney-General urging him to fast track the development of a national action plan with timeline for implementing a range of urgently needed elder abuse reforms.

“We congratulate the Federal Government on committing much needed funding and resources to tackle some of the key issues that have been identified by elder abuse victims, impacted families and advocates,” Greysafe CEO Michael Riley said.

“Significantly, the Federal Government has recognised the need for an urgent and definitive study to take place to determine the prevalence and nature of elder abuse. At present, we have no idea of the exact number of older Australians being subjected to elder abuse.”

“There is also recognition by the Federal Government that despite some great work being undertaken to address elder abuse issues by States and Territories and various institutions, much of the work to date has been happening in silos or is fragmented. The establishment of a new national elder abuse peak body will hopefully lead to a more rapid and co-ordinated response to supporting elder abuse victims and advocating for the policy changes needed to support the efforts of agencies, advocates and support networks.”

Greysafe said it would continue to lobby the Federal Government on the need to toughen laws to protect older Australians suspected to be at risk, or the recipient, of elder abuse.  This includes making elder abuse a criminal offence.

“We also believe that besides the much needed elder abuse Knowledge Hub announced today by Senator Brandis, there is a critical need to create an ongoing national public awareness campaign, funded by government, on recognising the signs of elder abuse and how to help those at risk,” Mr Riley said.

“Greysafe believes the community has to help lead the efforts to weed out elder abuse perpetrators from behind the shadows and for our part, we’re developing our own community awareness initiative, Grey Armband Day, to help raise awareness of and uncover the hidden epidemic of elder abuse.”

“We’d welcome working with the Federal Government on making Grey Armband Day a flagship grass roots awareness program as part of a co-ordinated and proactive effort to engage the Australian community to be part of the solution in helping stamp out elder abuse in the community.”

Greysafe Donations

Greysafe calls for urgent national summit to develop elder abuse action plan

Media Release: September 26, 2017

An advocacy group for older Australians has urged the Federal Government to call a national summit on elder abuse without delay as fears rise among advocates that a reform blueprint presented to the Attorney-General  three months ago by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) will be put in the ‘too hard’ basket.

Greysafe, a not for profit organisation that works to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians, will write to the Attorney-General George Brandis urging him to bring together relevant State and Federal Ministers, legal and financial experts as well as advocates representing impacted families to develop an action plan and timeline for implementing a range of urgently needed reforms.

“The ALRC presented 43 recommendations to Senator Brandis in time for World Elder Abuse Day on June 15. Now it is time to get on with implementation and action. We don’t want to be still waiting in June 2018 for an action plan to be developed and implemented,” Greysafe CEO Michael Riley said.

“The summit should be called without delay as stories and examples of our vulnerable elderly being abused continue to come through each day.

As a precursor to the summit, Greysafe has developed key recommendations to form an agenda for discussion on the day including:

  • The need to toughen laws to protect older Australians suspected to be at risk of or the recipient of elder abuse. This includes making elder abuse a criminal offence.
  • The establishment of a National Elder Abuse Taskforce made up of prominent legal, finance, medical and social welfare experts and charged with the responsibility of overseeing new national standards and laws to help identify and stamp out elder abuse in the home and in aged care.
  • The need for an urgent and definitive study to take place to determine the actual number of Australians being subjected to elder abuse and those at risk of elder abuse. At present, we have no idea of the exact number of older Australians being subjected to elder abuse.
  • The creation of an ongoing national public awareness campaign, funded by government, on recognising the signs of elder abuse and how to help those at risk.
  • The establishment of a twice yearly forum where elder abuse victims, families and advocates are brought together with legislators and National Elder Abuse Task Force  members to check progress of initiatives and discuss practical solutions to eradicate elder abuse.
  • The implementation of two ‘End the Social Isolation’ trial programs in each state of Australia. One trial to take place in the city and one in a rural/regional area. Social isolation and exclusion is a factor in elder abuse. To be able to begin to address elder abuse in the home, where possible, we need to encourage victims to get out of the house and away from perpetrators and towards individuals and organisations that can help. The pilot program would see GPs, lawyers, financial advisers, counsellors and service clubs come together and meet with potential victims and socially isolated older Australians on a regular basis at a venue provided by local councils.
  • The establishment of ongoing professional development, training and educational seminars to highlight the signs of elder abuse. These education modules would become mandatory and be undertaken by bank staff, medical professionals and other organisations that have regular interactions with vulnerable older Australians.
  • The development of education programs in schools around the theme of ‘Respect, Care and Connection with the Elderly’.
  • Engage Australia’s community service clubs such as Lions, Rotary, Probus and Neighbourhood Watch to work with the National Elder Abuse Taskforce to help lead the community change required to identify and stamp out elder abuse. Service clubs have the connections and volunteers available to be able to help lead the ‘End the Social Isolation’ and ‘Respect and Reconnect with the Elderly’ projects through their interaction with older Australians in their local communities.

“We need to be clear that this summit is about coming up with meaningful and tangible actions. It should not be another talkfest where delegates leave the summit only having talked about the problems. We know the problems, we now need an action plan and timelines put in place to come up with solutions,” Mr Riley said.

“The summit should be attended by all heads of Australian Governments, elder abuse legal and financial experts, regulators, impacted family representatives, community service group leaders and key industry leaders.

“Greysafe believes the community has to help lead the efforts to weed out elder abuse perpetrators from out of the shadows and for our part, we’re developing our own community awareness initiative, Grey Armband Day, to help raise awareness of and uncover the hidden epidemic of elder abuse.”

Media release: Homesafe steps up for campaign to stamp out elder abuse

20 September 2017:

One of Australia’s leading providers of wealth solutions for older Australians has signed on as a major sponsor of a new national grass roots community initiative aiming to help make Australia a world leader in the prevention of elder abuse.

Homesafe Solutions Pty Ltd is Australia’s market leading provider of a debt free equity release solution for older Australians to access the wealth tied up in their homes without the need to downsize.

“Homesafe is pleased to be a major sponsor of this important and necessary initiative. In our business, we are dealing with senior Australians every day and unfortunately have witnessed firsthand the consequences of such abuse,” said Homesafe Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Dianne Shepherd.

“Elder abuse is an insidious and complex problem in our society, and can be perpetrated in many ways. We believe that the work done by Greysafe will go a long way towards not only providing support for elder abuse victims, but also ensuring that victims are not dehumanised by empowering them to address this issue within our own families or social networks.”

“We keenly endorse the work being done by Michael and his team to draw attention to this significant issue.”

Greysafe CEO, Michael Riley, said the organisation was delighted with the leadership and support shown by Homesafe in getting behind Greysafe and the organisation’s flagship elder abuse awareness campaign – Grey Armband Day.

“Both Greysafe and Homesafe share a vision to protect and empower older Australians. Dianne and her team at Homesafe are at the forefront of providing safe and flexible solutions to the needs of  senior homeowners who want to stay living in their own homes yet get access to untapped funds if needed, without having to go into debt or take out a loan,” Mr Riley said.

“Thanks to the generous support of Homesafe, our Grey Armband Day campaign will be able to raise funds to provide ongoing advocacy and support services for victims of elder abuse and also develop ongoing education and community awareness campaigns.”

The inaugural national Grey Armband Day will take place in June 2018. On that day, across the country players, spectators and supporters will be asked to wear a specially designed grey armband as a nation-wide grass roots show of support and call to action. And to garner support from local sporting clubs and community organisations across Australia, funds raised as part of the campaign will be shared with those clubs and organisations that take part.

“We expect that thousands of sporting teams, players, club supporters and community organisation members will take to the fields, courts, sidelines and stadiums of Australia on Grey Armband Day to show their support for vulnerable older Australians that are suffering, or at risk of, elder abuse, “ Mr Riley said.

Shame, shame, shame:  Hinch the only politician to stand up for those in aged care

MEDIA RELEASE:   12 September 2017

A coalition of grass roots aged care advocates representing thousands of concerned citizens said politicians that failed to support Senator Derryn Hinch’s private member’s bill calling for a mandated ratio of skilled staff to residents in all aged care facilities, should hang their heads in shame.

Action of Elderly Abuse Now group spokesperson Charli Maree Darragh, said it was little surprise to advocates that mainstream political parties were already trying to distance themselves from Senator Hinch’s worthwhile proposed changes to the Aged Care Act.

“This is typical of the lack of leadership in Australian politics,’ Ms Darragh said. “While not the panacea for all the ills affecting residential aged care in this country, Senator Hinch’s proposed changes are a significant and important first step and should be applauded and supported.”

“Yet, it took less than 48 hours from the tabling of the bill in the Senate, for both the mainstream and minor parties to start muddying the waters.”

Industry media reported on Friday that while there is broad acceptance of the workforce issues and support for change, the Australian Greens and the government said they would not back the bill while the Opposition and the Nick Xenophon Team did not offer a clear position.

“Typically, politics comes before aged care residents,” Ms Darragh said. “The opportunity was there for bi partisan support for a bill that would immediately make a difference to aged care residents.”

“Instead we get the government patting themselves on the back for the number of reviews they have taking place, and the opposition talking about the need for an evidence based approach. The evidence is already in, there are not enough nurses employed to care for our elderly in aged care.”

“While we note the NXT party is yet to consider their position and the Greens did rightly call on the government to implement the recommendations in the Senate inquiry into the Future of Australia’s aged care sector workforce, there is no reason why they could not have supported Senator Hinch’s bill to get much needed changes to nurse to patient rations happening now.”

The grass roots alliance said it was clear that Senator Hinch’s Justice Party was the only political party willing to stand up for immediate change to protect vulnerable Australians in aged care and the general lack of political will to fix the failing aged care system had increased the resolve of advocates to push for both a Royal Commission into aged care and running a marginal seat campaign at the next Federal election should calls for a Royal Commission go unheeded.”

“We’ve seen review after review take place for a number of years. Nothing changes. Only a Royal Commission will give aged care residents, families, relatives, aged carers, whistleblowers and nursing staff the opportunity to tell it like it is without fear or favour. Only then will we uncover the levels of abuse and poor care that is taking place and highlight what needs to change.”

The Action of Elderly Abuse Now alliance has support from close to 100,000 people who are either members of alliance partners or pledged support through petitions.

The abuse victims not on our radar and here’s why

September 10, 2017: My opinion piece published in The Age and Fairfax online.

If I told you that right now, while you read this article, 200,000 Australian women were being abused, bullied or kept in social isolation you’d be outraged. Correct? What about if a new report came out that the same number of children were being sexually abused both at home and in supposed safe institutions? Or if we read a news article that told us the same number of animals were being physically mistreated and left shaking in fear from those that “own” them?

Quite rightly, we’d all be angry, shocked and pretty in much in agreement that something needs to be done right away.
Illustration: Dionne GainIllustration: Dionne Gain

So, if I tell you that 200,000 is the estimated number of Australians aged over 65 that are subject to abuse, does it upset you as much as what I described above?

The reason I ask is that I had an interesting response during a conversation with a couple of young  professionals recently when talking to them about what I do for a job and using that as an opportunity to ask what they thought about abuse of older Australians. It was a bit of a reality check to be honest and for that I’m grateful.
<p> Photo: Tamara Voninski

One said that while she has enormous sympathy for anyone being subjected to abuse on any level, she believed many of her generation would struggle to put abuse of the elderly on their “personal outrage radar” like other causes and social issues such as violence against women, animal rights and child abuse.

Why?
Here’s her response: “I’m just being honest here. If you asked most people, older people just aren’t that nice to look at, and you know, there is probably a feeling that they are coming to the end of their life and while I personally feel we need to care for older people somehow, they do get a pension or free healthcare. Our resources can’t go on forever and are better focused on the future generations like children and women who have 30, 40 years of life ahead of them.”

I told her I appreciated her honesty. And I gave her some in return. I said up until three years ago, I felt much the same way.

Then something personal happened in our family. Elder abuse struck someone very close. I won’t go into all the details but suffice to say, the impact goes beyond just one victim. Relationships on many levels have been damaged and lost forever, the physical and emotional impact is always just a thought away, the feeling of helplessness and questions like “what more could I have done” come flooding back whenever a birthday, anniversary or other special family event comes onto the radar. Events that once bought joy and made memories are now missed with none of the past celebration.

I’ve often sat parked near the victim’s home. Wondering and thinking about what I could do to “rescue” her. Wondering what abuse was continuing behind those doors which are now closed to me. Wondering why she just didn’t want us to help. Trying to work out how she fell under the spell of the abuser to the extent that she became a victim of Stockholm syndrome. The abused siding with the abuser resulting in the willing helpers and other loved ones being pushed away.

It gnaws away at me that in a First World country like ours, the lucky country, with some of the best and brightest minds, with some of the most generous and compassionate people on earth at times of crisis we can’t even put an exact figure on the numbers being poked, isolated, slapped, yelled at, bullied, shamed and ripped off and told they should be dead. Like the victim in our family, how many have slipped under the radar and haven’t been the subject of any official report? There is still a lot happening behind closed doors and whether due to the fear of repercussions or ill-conceived shame and embarrassment, it remains hidden from society’s eyes.

There could be a reason for this too. And again it took the younger generation to shine a light on it. Apathy and priorities.

“I guess they are out of sight, out of mind for us,” replied the other young professional that joined our conversation. “I mean, I love my gran but maybe see her twice a year at birthdays and Christmas. She’s old and she has a carer and that seems fine from what my mum says. She really doesn’t know us when we are there but look, I care about her and should see her more but life takes over and I’m studying and working and …” she cut off at that point.

I asked them both what causes they did know and care about. “I’ve given to the RSPCA a couple of times. Once I volunteered to clean out the kennels but just don’t have the time now. Violence against women obviously,” one said.

“Same-sex marriage, any bullying of women and kids, suicide and yeah, I hate seeing any child abuse, so that rips at me. Nothing worse than seeing a beautiful little kid suffering. But I’m saving for a house now so … you know, I lend my voice to petitions where I can,” said the other.

Maybe as a society, we’ve decided that of the four really vulnerable groups that need protection – children, women, animals and the elderly – only three really resonate. Maybe the only causes that will grab the attention of the young are those that make a good Instagram shot. I hope we aren’t that shallow. All need our love, respect and protection.

Michael Riley is Founder and CEO of Greysafe, a not for profit organisation that works to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians. www.greysafe.org.au

http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-abuse-victims-not-on-our-radar-and-heres-why-20170822-gy1jj3.html

National architecture firm gets behind Grey Armband Day

September 4, 2017:

One of Australia’s leading aged care and retirement village architecture firms has become a major sponsor of a new national grass roots community initiative aiming to help prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians.

Interworks Architects, a Brisbane based national firm that has designed over a thousand aged care rooms in ten different aged care facilities, said supporting Grey Armband Day and helping raise awareness of the growing issue of elder abuse was a responsibility for all Australians.

“Like most, I’m saddened to hear of the growing number of older Australians being subjected to elder abuse. I thought it imperative for our company to play a part in efforts to get on top of this important community issue,” said Interworks owner Paul Sheppard.

“Having been involved in designing aged care and retirement projects in Queensland, NSW and Victoria for over thirty years and having helped place my own mother into aged care, we are proud  to play a very small part in supporting an outstanding community awareness effort and campaign.”

An initiative of not for profit advocacy group Greysafe, the Grey Armband Day campaign will raise funds to provide ongoing advocacy for victims of elder abuse and develop ongoing education and community awareness campaigns. It will also provide much needed 24/7 counselling and support services to some of the estimated 200,000 Australians suffering elder abuse and the estimated 75,000 of Australians over the age of 65 who are victims of crime.

The inaugural national Grey Armband Day will take place in June 2018. On that day, across the country players, spectators and supporters will be asked to wear a specially designed grey armband as a nation-wide grass roots show of support and call to action. And to garner support from local sporting clubs and community organisations across Australia, funds raised as part of the campaign will be shared with those clubs and organisations that take part.

Greysafe CEO, Michael Riley, said early expressions of interest from teams, clubs and individuals backed the importance of the campaign and having the support of corporate sponsors like Interworks Architects was crucial to the success of stopping elder abuse from growing.

“We expect that thousands of sporting teams, players, club supporters and community organisation members will take to the fields, courts, sidelines and stadiums of Australia on Grey Armband Day to show their support for vulnerable older Australians that are suffering, or at risk of, elder abuse, “ Mr Riley said.

“This is an exciting grass roots campaign that will not only raise ongoing awareness of the need to stamp out elder abuse but unite the local community in being a part of those efforts. Greysafe is appreciative of the support of Paul and his team at Interworks for getting behind this important campaign.”

In appreciation of the commitment and efforts of clubs to get players, teams, participants, spectators and the local community involved in this worthwhile cause, Greysafe will share the funds raised for the day with participating clubs and community organisations.

Media Release: Grey Armband Day to unite local communities in fight against elder abuse

August 29, 2017:

Thousands of sporting teams, players, club supporters and community organisation members will take to the fields, courts, sidelines and stadiums of Australia next year as part of a new national grass roots community initiative aiming to help prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians.

In June 2018, the inaugural national Grey Armband Day will take place. On that day, across the country players, spectators and supporters will be asked to wear a specially designed grey armband as a nation-wide grass roots show of support and call to action. And to garner support from local sporting clubs and community organisations across Australia, funds raised as part of the campaign will be shared with those clubs and organisations that take part.

An initiative of not for profit advocacy group Greysafe, the Grey Armband Day campaign will raise funds to provide ongoing advocacy for victims of elder abuse and develop ongoing education and community awareness campaigns. It will also provide much needed 24/7 counselling and support services to some of the estimated 200,000 Australians suffering elder abuse and the estimated 75,000 of Australians over the age of 65 who are victims of crime.

“This is an exciting grass roots campaign that will not only raise ongoing awareness of the need to stamp out elder abuse but unite the local community in being a part of those efforts,” said Greysafe CEO, Michael Riley.

“And in appreciation of the commitment and efforts of clubs to get players, teams, participants, spectators and the local community involved in this worthwhile cause, we want to share the funds raised with the clubs and community organisations.”

“Having successfully tested the Grey Armband Day concept with a number of local sporting and community groups, we have opened registration for clubs and community organisations across Australia via our website,” Mr Riley said.”

“We also believe this is an excellent opportunity for innovative potential sponsors to connect with local communities across Australia and help us bring this initiative to fruition.”

“We hope both local sporting and community clubs as well as corporate Australia can you see the benefit of joining with us in this unique community awareness campaign focussed on engaging millions of Australians in leading the charge to stamp out the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older Australians.”