Elder abuse spikes in WA – Advocare

Perth Now

Reports of elder abuse have spiked in WA, with calls to a helpline soaring 50 per cent in the first four months of this year.

There were 257 calls to Advocare’s Elder Abuse Helpline between January and April this year compared to 171 calls during the same period in 2017. An average of 40 hours a month was spent dealing with these calls.

Advocare chief executive Diedre Timms said there was a rising trend in the detection and awareness of elder abuse, which could be financial, psychological, social, physical, sexual or neglect. Helpline calls peaked in January, at 90, which Ms Timms attributed to a jump in awareness after revelations of elder abuse at a now-closed South Australian nursing home went public.

“Nobody knows about the prevalence and people don’t actually know (that elder abuse is) anything from taking $20 from mum’s purse to denying an older person all of their assets or preventing them from engaging in the community and with their friends,” Ms Timms said.

It’s predicted up to 75,000 West Australians could be experiencing elder abuse and that 83 per cent of perpetrators are family members.

In 2016-17, 499 calls were made to the helpline and Advocare assisted 1219 clients who were victims of elder abuse.

Ms Timms said Advocare was significantly under-resourced, with six advocates covering the entire State and elder abuse only being one part of its service.

She said an awareness campaign was needed, but did not think creating a separate criminal offence for elder abuse would necessarily work.

“Most people experiencing elder abuse don’t want to go down the legal prosecution route because it’s stressful, can be expensive and probably won’t give them the outcome they want anyway,” Ms Timms said.

“Most people we deal with want to try and maintain the family relationship if possible.”

Last week, the inaugural WA Elder Abuse Prevention Summit was held to identify priorities and contribute to the National Plan on Elder Abuse, which the WA Government is co-chairing with its Federal counterparts.

Seniors and Ageing Minister Mick Murray said: “We need to close the gap between understanding the problem, recognising when abuse is occurring and taking action to stop it. Once the National Plan on Elder Abuse is complete, the State Government will have a clearer understanding of what reforms, legislative or otherwise, may be required to address the issue.”

Last month, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson told the State parliamentary select committee into elder abuse that criminal laws should be strengthened when it came to property offences against the elderly.

“I do not think the aggravated penalties attached to all property-type matters have a circumstance of aggravation attached, as they do against personal offences against elderly people,” he said.

Park kids save injured elder

Bundaburg Chronicle

PROVING the younger generation are a caring bunch, a man has shared the heart-warming tale of how a group of boys came to the aid of an elderly man.

Kevin and Kay from Gin Gin were heading into town for a wedding on Saturday afternoon when they noticed a situation near the skate bowl.

“Near the skate park at Walla St, we saw an elderly man on the ground, he was obviously injured and distressed and had a large amount of blood coming from a wound on his face,” Kevin said.

“There were two boys with the man and a group of young boys running across the road towards the man as he lay on the ground.

“My wife and I turned around and went back to assist the elderly man, we were unsure of what the situation was or what had happened.”

It was then that Kevin and Kay realised the boys had it all under control.

“After speaking to the boys and the elderly man it appeared the man had collapsed and the boys were helping him, one young fellow was onto 000 and seemed to be well in control of passing details to the operator,” he said.

“The other lads were all eager to assist and showed real concern.

“Another car stopped and the lady also assisted with some cold water and a temporary dressing for the large, open wound on the man’s face.

“The wife and I made sure the man was stable and in good hands, the lady assured us she would wait for the ambulance and we departed -only just making the wedding in time.”

Kevin said he was entirely impressed with how the boys had behaved.

“The bit I would like to highlight is how refreshing it was to see these young fellows taking control of this situation and ready to assist the elderly man,” he said.

“Sadly I did not get any names but these lads will know who they are, if they were my lads I would be so proud of them with their wiliness to assist and care for this elderly gentleman who was injured and in a very distressed state.

“Well done boys, and a big thank you to the lady who also took the time to stop and assist.”

Calls for bank staff to thwart elder abuse

© AAP 2018

Banks are being urged to mark Elder Abuse Day by appointing in-branch staff dedicated to protecting older Australians from financial exploitation.
Advocacy group Greysafe is concerned bank job cuts and new technologies are exposing elderly customers to new threats of 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,” Greysafe chief Mike Cahill said on Friday.
“Unfortunately, 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.”
Last week, the banking industry and seniors’ groups successfully lobbied state and federal attorneys-general to progress standardised power-of-attorney orders to prevent vulnerable parents from “inheritance impatience”.
Mr Cahill believes if banks employ dedicated and properly trained “elder protection officers” in branches it will leave them less exposed to adverse action and potential compensation payments.
Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh says frontline banking staff have horror stories about elderly parents having their homes signed away or large sums of money being taken from their account by adult children.
She’s called for authorities other than police to have stronger powers to investigate these cases.
“These are very complex family issues and where and older person does not want to take action against a member of their family, particularly their older children, we believe that there are existing agencies in each state where we could be looking at improving powers of investigation that they have,” Ms Bligh told ABC radio.
Leading Age Services Australia is the peak national body representing providers of residential care, home care and retirement living.
Its chief executive Sean Rodney points out elder abuse can be physical, psychological or financial.
“Our community must have zero tolerance towards elder abuse,” Mr Rodney said.
“We all have a role to play in identifying, empowering people and ending elder abuse.”
On the eve of Elder Abuse Day, it was announced older Australians suffering abuse, and their families, would be able to seek expert help from a new national body.
Senior rights groups from each of the states will partner with the federal government under Elder Abuse Action Australia to protect people from financial and physical abuse.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said on Thursday the new body would help tackle serious crimes of fraud and theft.
Mr Porter said elder abuse was most common in financial settings, with the EAAA to work with law enforcement in such matters as estates, property and bank accounts.
He expects the new group to play a key role in the development of a national plan to combat elder abuse, which he announced in February.

Aged care focus should be funding: Labor

Australia’s aged care system is ‘in a fundamental state of crisis’ but a royal commission into the issue may not be necessary, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.
Mr Shorten would not rule out a push for a commission but said the national focus should instead be on supporting staff and funding the sector.
“We are setting our aged care system up to fail when we don’t properly fund it nationally,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
Mr Shorten was first asked whether he would support calls for a royal commission on Monday night’s episode of the ABC’s ‘Q&A’ program, which was broadcast from a suburb north of Adelaide.
The question was asked by Stewart Johnson, whose mother was one of the residents at the now-closed Oakden aged care facility.
Findings of maladministration were made against five people over several failings at the centre that accommodated elderly people with mental health issues.
Mr Shorten replied he was ‘fired up’ about the issue and would consider a royal commission.
“I can’t cavalierly announce it, but what I’m trying to convey to you is ‘I think you’ve got a point’,” he said.
But during a visit to an Adelaide primary school on Tuesday, Mr Shorten said he was “not convinced” of the need for a commission.
“I think that the nation does know a lot of what we need to do,” he said.
“We need to make sure we’ve got qualified staff, we need to make sure there’s career paths for (the) aged care workforce, we need to put more money into it.”

‘I go without food’: Struggling pensioner

– The New Daily
Patricia Andrew has no savings, no super and no assets.
She’s survived months without spending money on groceries.
She’s forgone necessities like heating and healthy food just to keep up with rent and pay for utilities.
But despite all that, 69-year-old Patricia – who receives the maximum rate of age pension – is on the brink of homelessness.
‘Impossible to find housing’
There are no longer any affordable rentals for single pensioners in Australia, forcing many elderly into homelessness or onto public housing waiting lists, Crystal McDonald from Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) says.
The average cost of a one-bedroom, private rental for a Melbourne-based pensioner who receives the full age pension is 79 per cent of their income, she says.
“It is near impossible to find stable, affordable housing as a pensioner with no assets.”
According to the Rental Affordability Index, stable, affordable housing is classed as permanent and under $140 a week.
The only type of housing that meets that criteria is public and social housing, but that is getting increasingly harder to access.
“Our clients used to wait on average one to three months for a place in public housing, now it is over a year,” Ms McDonald says.
“The lack of affordable housing options for pensioners is one of Australia’s biggest problems.”
The maximum base rate for the age pension for singles is $814 a fortnight. That falls well below the national minimum weekly wage of about $695.

For Patricia, relying solely on the government to fund her retirement has been a fortnightly struggle.
The 69-year-old has received a notice to vacate her Brunswick unit in Melbourne’s inner north – a property that Patricia has rented for more than 18 years.
“I cannot afford the rents that landlords are asking for now.
She’s now one of 82,000 people on the public housing waiting list in Victoria.
Patricia says she would be homeless if it weren’t for her daughter’s willingness to accommodate her at her home until a vacancy opens up.
But that means relocating to Geelong.
“It’s taken me years to find a really reliable doctor that I really like now.
“I now have to travel from Geelong to come to visit him in Brunswick.”
Patricia worked in a textile factory – which did not pay superannuation – and also picked up a range of cleaning jobs, but a work injury forced her into retirement at age 58.
She was left with $5000 in superannuation – compulsory superannuation was not introduced until 1992.
Over two years, Patricia used up all her funds to fly to New Zealand several times to visit her terminally ill mother.
Without any superannuation or savings left, Patricia is dependent on her fortnightly pension payment of $991.
“If I get a high utilities bill, then I can’t afford to buy food that fortnight.
“There are times that I don’t buy groceries for five weeks.”

Defining Elder Abuse.


  • From the NSW Elder Abuse Resource Unit.

‘Elder abuse can be defined as a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.’

World Health Organisation (WHO – 2002)

Psychological abuse

  • Someone threatening to hurt you or damage your belongings
  • Being intimidated, humiliated or harassed
  • Being threatened with eviction or moving to a nursing home
  • Being stopped from seeing your family or friends or attending regular activities
  • Being denied the right to make your own decisions
  • Being treated like a child

Financial abuse

  • Your pension skimmed or money taken from your bank account
  • Your belongings sold without permission
  • Your money or property taken improperly through the misuse of an Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Being forced to change your Will
  • Being denied access to, or control of your own funds


  • Not allowed to access the services you need
  • Not having your physical, medical or emotional needs met

Physical abuse

  • Slapping, hitting, pushing, shaking, shoving or restraining
  • Inappropriate physical or chemical restraints
  • Harm created by over- or under-medicating

Sexual abuse

  • Someone making unwanted sexual approaches or behaving indecently towards you
  • No consent, or consent given by using force or threats

If this is happening to you or someone you know, we can help. Call us on 1800 628 221.


Police officer piggybacks elderly man across busy road

A traffic cop has been praised for helping an elderly man cross a busy intersection by giving him a piggyback ride to get him across safely.

Footage of the heart-warming act shows a senior citizen, with two walking sticks in hand, shuffling across a zebra crossing.

He appears to struggle to keep up with the group ahead, as seven lanes of traffic come to a stop while the elderly man slowly navigates the crossing, in China’s southwest on Monday.

Before he was halfway across the lights appeared to change and traffic began to move slowly around him.

The officer, identified as Qin Weijie, approached the senior citizen and the pair had a brief chat before the officer bent over to lift the man up on his back, carrying him across lanes of traffic, as cars paused allowing them to cross.

Care model achieves better resident outcomes at no extra cost

By Sandy Cheu on June 6, 2018  in IndustryResearch & Clinical

Aged care residents living in smaller home-like clusters have a better quality of life and experience fewer hospital admissions, according to new research.

The Flinders University study involving 541 permanent residents in 17 aged care facilities investigated the consequences and costs of living long term in clustered home-like aged care between January 2015 and February 2016.

The 17 facilities across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia providing standard care (13) and clustered household models with 15 residents or fewer (4) were compared based on location, facility size, staff training costs and direct care hours.

The research found that residents living long-term in clustered home-like aged care had a significantly higher quality of life compared to those in standard care as reported by study participants.

Residents in the home-like aged care environments also had a 68 per cent lower rate of being admitted to hospital and 73 per cent lower chance of admission to the emergency department, the study published in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday found.

The study found raw facility running costs were similar between models, but significantly lower residential care costs in the clustered household approach after adjusting for differences in participant and facility characteristics.

The researchers estimate the clustered model saved governments approximately $14,000 per resident per year in health and residential care costs.

Aged care providers should consider offering cluster home-like models of care to better meet consumer preferences, said Dr Suzanne Dyer, a Flinders University senior research fellow and lead author on the paper.

“More aged care facilities should adopt this model of care to improve the quality of life and outcomes of people living in aged care,” Dr Dyer told Australian Ageing Agenda. 

The criteria for clustered home-like facilities in this study included having an independent accessible outdoor area, allocation of care staff to specific living units, meals cooked within the units, self-service of meals by residents and residents’ participation in meal preparation.

Facilities that did not meet these requirements were identified as providing a standard model of care.

The residents living in the clustered home-like facilities were more likely to receive more than two-and-a-half direct care hours per day (77 per cent) than those in standard facilities (45 per cent), according to the study.

Dr Dyer said clustered models of care provided better outcomes for residents without a regulatory approach.

“The government should look at ways of incentivising alternative models of care and rewarding models that provide better outcomes for residents, maximise their independence and promote individual choices and social connectedness,” Dr Dyer said.

The findings of the research have been welcomed by dementia specialists HammondCare, which has been using clustered home-like models of care for many years.

“Not only are home-like residences providing better health outcomes, they are also cost effective,” CEO of HammondCare, Dr Stephen Judd said.

He said the combination of the smaller home-like environment, social model of care and staffing approach is key to the success of this model.

“It should be a no brainer for governments, philanthropists and other aged care investors to back those models that reflect the evidence, because at the end of the day, that’s what will produce better outcomes for older Australians,” Dr Judd said.

The study is part of the Investigating Services Provided in the Residential care Environment for Dementia in Australia (INSPIRED) study funded through the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre.

INSPIRED has also developed an evidence-based tool that allows aged care providers to gain insights into their residents’ experiences of aged care using a short survey (read our report here).

Access the study here.





French nurse is Armidale’s Volunteer of the Year

Nicholas Fuller – The Armidale Express

When nurse Myriam Rigot moved from France to the other side of the world, she volunteered with the elderly.

Now she has been named Armidale’s Adult Volunteer of the Year, recognising her knowledge, compassion, and empathy.

Since late 2015, Myriam has volunteered twice weekly with the Jacaranda Social Club, the Home Nursing Group’s program for people over 65 and indigenous people over 50.

While the elderly paint, dance, or hear guest speakers, Myriam helps serve food and clean, she keeps people safe, and makes sure they enjoy themselves.

“They’re friendly. They come here to socialise. They joke a lot, so it’s always a good atmosphere!”

Volunteering allowed Myriam to improve her English and work with the aged, while drawing on her work experience in France and Germany.

“I didn’t want to stay at home,” she said. “My son was at school and I wanted to be helpful for somebody.”

Myriam and her husband, a paleontologist, moved to Armidale in 2015 when he took up a lecturing role at the University of New England.

​“Because of my husband’s job, we have lived in different places in France,” she said.

“We’ve lived at Montpellier in the south and at Clermont-Ferrand in the centre of France. We’ve also lived in Frankfurt, Germany.

“We returned to France, and my husband found work at last in Australia – and we’re going to move again. Like lots of people today!”

This is the couple’s last year in Australia. They will return to Europe in January, to be closer to their family – taking with them memories of a friendly, multicultural city.

“For me, Australia was the outback, surf, beaches,” Myriam said.

“Armidale was obviously a bit different! But it’s been very pleasant; there’s a lot to do here, and the people are welcoming.

“What I also like about Armidale is its multiculturalism. I don’t know how many nationalities there are – 60, 70? …  Finally, I have Australian friends, but also friends from different nationalities.”




Kiwi meth house myth: Evicting the elderly.

Henry Cooke, Jun 1 2018 – Stuff.co.nz

It’s been called the biggest scam ever played on New Zealand. For years, tens of millions of dollars were spent on testing and cleaning houses for methamphetamine residue that wasn’t dangerous at all. Throughout, Housing New Zealand led the charge, kicking tenants out of homes and pursuing them for thousands in the Tenancy Tribunal. HENRY COOKE looks back at the series of failures at every level that got us into this mess.

Rosemary Rudolph was in her late 80s when the Government told her she was going to die.

It wasn’t cancer, old age, or anything her doctor said at all. It came from a Housing New Zealand staffer, who said the place Rudolph called home for more than 60 years was poisoning her – she had to move out quick.

“They said I would die if I stayed there. I’ll tell you what, I’ve been dying ever since – I’m a shadow of what I once was,” Rudolph said.

One of Rudolph’s 16 grandchildren had smoked some methamphetamine on the property and HNZ had caught wind of this, she said, admitting she was “pretty naive”.

HNZ demanded the 87-year-old leave the property in Avondale, Auckland, so that it could be tested. The tests came back positive – and that was it. She was out, moved to a far smaller unit right by a busy road.

“They said you have to move out, and because it’s not your fault, we’ll give you a little place somewhere,” she said.

“I wasn’t allowed to bring my blankets or anything. I just walked out in the clothes that I had. The few that I had had to be washed three times … My possessions were taken away from me. People came off the street and ransacked the place.”

Rudolph said HNZ charged her $3000 for the testing. An HNZ spokesperson said the agency is “currently reviewing any costs associated with this matter”.

“Our staff met with Mrs Rudolph and her son to discuss the meth testing results which showed the highest reading of 22.5 – well above the new level of 15.5 – despite confirmation the tenant’s son had arranged for the property to be commercially cleaned before testing,” the spokesperson said.

This might sound like an agency doing the best it can to help a vulnerable tenant it didn’t want getting sick. And an HNZ spokesman said they were also very worried about her safety thanks to that “serious incident involving her son and some associates who identified themselves as gang members” where shots were fired on the property.

But the Government has now made clear that unless there was someone actually cooking P on her property, which HNZ didn’t suspect, Rudolph was in no real danger from the meth – even with the higher reading. Neither were the hundreds of other tenants kicked out or moved from their houses for the same thing, with readings that we often far lower.

According to a report from the Chief Science Advisor Peter Gluckman to the NZ Prime Minister released earlier this week, not a single person has ever been found to have gotten sick from the residue left over when someone smokes P.

The levels HNZ were testing to were 10 times lower than they should have been and based on guidelines not meant to be used for anything but former labs. The agency spent $100 million on what the report describes as mostly unnecessary tests and took 900 properties out of its portfolio in the middle of the biggest housing shortage in a generation, chasing tenants through the Tenancy Tribunal to pay for “contaminating” properties.

And it wasn’t just state home tenants getting stung – private landlords, private tenants, and even home owners were all caught up in a years-long moral panic with no real scientific evidence to back it, often spending tens of thousands of dollars on tests and cleaning they didn’t need.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford, who commissioned the report two weeks after becoming minister, called it a “textbook public policy failure”. Sir Peter Gluckman, whose office wrote the report, said there was an “inexplicable leap of logic” which caused all this.

So how did that happen? How did all the institutions we trust to keep these things from happening – the Government, the justice system, and the media – get this so wrong?

The story of how it happened shows up shortcomings in some of those key institutions. It shows how some unproved claims can spread like wildfire through the media and politicians, causing real damage along the way. And it shows how erring on the side of caution, being a little bit more conservative than might be strictly scientifically necessary, can cause massive unintended damage.

Ross Bell, director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, has been following and worrying about this issue for years. He said it all began in the late 2000s with news stories about cops and firefighters worried about getting sick from busting meth labs.

Meth labs can contain really harmful chemicals used in the production of the drug – generally not meth itself, but nasty solvents – so these concerns made total sense. But then things started to grow.

“Councils became worried about registering these high-profile labs on the Land Information Memorandums people get when they sell properties. That’s when the Ministry of Health was asked to develop the guidelines,” Bell said.

These guidelines, released in 2010, are the closest thing to a smoking gun in this case. Just imagine the gun was actually intended by its creators to be a water pistol.

The thing is, the guidelines were only meant for the clean-up of meth labs. As labs can contain those other dangerous chemicals, which are often hard to spot, it made sense to make the standard you should clean to should be very restrictive – 0.5μg or “micrograms” per 100cm2. This figure was not a measurement of when you should begin cleaning, but a point to get to afterwards. The trigger to start cleaning would be clear knowledge that a meth lab had been present on the premises.

The idea is that after you clean up a lab you should only have 0.5μg or less of meth residue left in these testing areas – which would prove that any other harmful chemicals were gone. 0.5μg is very restrictive. A grain of sand is about 11μg.

This standard is in line with international standards of what to clean to. But in New Zealand this 0.5μg figure was taken and took to mean the absolute maximum that meth should be present in any property, a trigger to begin cleaning in the first place. This is the inexplicable “leap in logic” Gluckman is talking about. A measurement meant to check if someone had cleaned up enough was taken and used as a trigger to begin that clean-up in the first place, even if there was absolutely no evidence that a meth lab (or even any usage) had ever taken place on a property.