Pioneering sexual assault project launched for WEAAD
More than 2,000 people called the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) last year about abuse.
“We know that’s just the tip of the iceberg because, of the almost one in six (14.8 per cent) older people who reported experiencing abuse in last year’s National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, only one-third had sought help,” said OPAN CEO Craig Gear.
Abuse can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial or due to neglect. Older people keep it secret because they feel ashamed or because they fear negative repercussions – in nearly one in five cases, the abuse is committed by adult children.
OPAN is addressing this under-reported issue with two key projects.
In the lead-up to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), on June 15, we have launched Ready to Listen, a ground-breaking project, developed in collaboration with the Older Women’s Network NSW and Celebrate Ageing Ltd, that aims to prevent sexual assault in aged care homes.
“The first step in preventing sexual assault in residential aged care, as the title of our project suggests, is to start listening to older people who are at risk,” said Mr Gear.
OPAN will be holding free events and releasing targeted resources throughout the month, including a webinar, Preventing sexual assault of people with dementia in residential aged care, on June 14, from 11.30am AEST.
OPAN has also developed an online training program, Prevention of Abuse of Older People for Health and Aged Care Professionals to build the capacity of residential aged care staff to respond sensitively and appropriately to suspected, witnessed or disclosed abuse. “Aged care workers need practical tools to help them identify abuse and respond in a trauma-informed manner,” said Mr Gear.
Around the network
Our member organisation in Western Australia, Advocare, has developed a complementary series of webinars. Visit their webpage for more information.