Call to stop abuse: WA Elder Abuse Hotline

Call to stop abuse: WA Elder Abuse Hotline

THE abuse of the elderly remains largely unreported due to victims being reluctant to come forward, according to leading WA advocacy group Advocare.

A 2011 UWA study found the most common reports of abuse were financial, followed by social abuse.

Advocare service delivery manager Sharon Richards said elderly people were often too proud to report abuse.

“To admit to being abused is very tough,” she said.

Ms Richards said there was no typical abuser, but perpetrators were commonly family members.

“The biggest group (of offenders) are sons and daughters. This year there are more daughters but next year it could be sons,” she said.

She said abuse sometimes followed on from domestic abuse or an expectation of payment for care or favours.

“There is a sense of entitlement for some,” she said.

For 72-year-old eastern suburbs resident Liz (not her real name), the death of her husband sparked a legal battle over property with her daughter.

“My daughter took me to trial over my husband’s will,” she said.

Her two-hectare property had been home for several decades and her daughter and son-in-law had lived in a granny flat adjoined to the main house for more than 10 years.

After the death of her husband in November, 2011, Liz asked the couple to increase their weekly rent payments to $200.

“She and her husband refused and got very upset, but soon comments and decisions were made (by my daughter and son-in-law) to upgrade the house and I felt I couldn’t say no,” Liz said.

Liz eventually asked her daughter and son-in-law to leave, having sought legal advice.

She was subpoenaed to court two weeks later.

Her daughter contested her husband’s will, saying her father had promised her money from the sale of the property.

“She said her father had promised to sell the house, pay me out and give her $500,000,” she said.

“It was out of the blue and no one knew anything about it.”

In November, 2014, the case was settled and the court ordered the daughter to reimburse her mother $30,000.

“I wasn’t going to lose my home for her benefit,” she said.

Liz said she wanted to tell her story to give other elders strength to rise up against unjust behaviour.

“It was elder abuse. Children feel they have a right to money and I think it will happen

more and more,” she said.

Ms Richards said Advocare aimed to protect complainant’s decision-making and rights to their property.

The WA Department of Local Governments and Community defines elder abuse as any act which causes harm to an older person and occurs within an informal relationship of trust, such as family or friends. It is estimated that 12,500 older West Australians could be the victims of elder abuse.

Elder abuse includes physical, emotional, financial, sexual or social abuse, or neglect.

The WA Elder Abuse Hotline was launched last September and elderly West Australians who felt at risk of or are experiencing abuse have made more than 400 calls.

The elder abuse hotline operates Mondays to Fridays from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Call 1300 724 679.