On Tuesday, major landmarks across Western Australia, including the Matagarup Bridge and Elizabeth Quay, were bathed in purple light to mark the world awareness day for elder abuse.
Up to 49,000 older people are estimated to be at risk of experiencing neglect or abuse in WA each year. That statistic, as well as the support services available to help this group of people, was highlighted on June 15, the world awareness day for elder abuse.
WA seniors and ageing minister Don Punch said that data from the state’s elder abuse helpline (1300 724 679) indicated more people were seeking assistance, with the number of calls from 2019-20 doubling over four years. Last financial year the helpline logged 1,220 calls for assistance over elder abuse or neglect concerns.
“The abuse of elderly people in our community — people who have given so much and continue to give – is completely unacceptable,” Punch said.
“I urge people to be cognisant of the signs with an elderly relative or friend and help them take action if necessary.”
As part of the state government’s commitment to raising awareness about elder abuse, it has invested over $6 million towards initiatives as part of the WA elder abuse strategy.
The 10-year plan was launched in November 2019 and includes funding for a range of services to at-risk elderly people including the establishment of a state council on the ageing, helpline provider and information services Advocare, and a peer education scheme run by the northern suburbs community legal centre (NSCLR).
The minister also used the day of awareness to announce a $4 million investment over four years for Legal Aid WA to establish a service to provide legal assistance in response to elder abuse. The new branch will be called Elder Rights WA and build on the work of the existing seniors rights and advocacy service.
“Elder abuse can take many forms and have devastating physical, psychological and financial effects that frequently go unreported, often out of fear or lack of access to legal representation,” Punch said.
“It’s vital that victims of elder abuse have access to legal representation should they require it.”
Other landmarks to shine bright with violet hues were the Bell Tower, Optus Stadium, Yagan Square, Council House and Trafalgar Bridge.
A ‘purple road’ of hand-stitched flowers that share individual stories of abuse and neglect, created by the NSCLR, will also be displayed outside the WA parliament house.