connectEDspace - support for young people

Young people can face all sorts of pressures – including problems at school, with friends or at home.
connectEDspace is a website by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV), dedicated to young people to help provide all the information they need to deal with the stuff they go through each day.

Aboriginal Family and Relationship Support


RAV provides support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and individuals to help strengthen family relationships.

Counselling provides an opportunity to talk with a professionally trained person to discuss couple issues, conflicts with friends, relationship breakdown, parenting, domestic violence, anxiety, depression, grief, sexual problems, childhood sexual abuse, stress and work related tensions and disputes.

visit deadlyrav.com.au

Elder abuse

Find out more about types of elder abuse, and what you should do if you're experiencing, or suspect someone is experiencing, it.


Elder abuse occurs when a person in a position of trust or responsibility exploits or mistreats an older person. Elder abuse can be a one-off incident, ongoing, or part of a history of family violence. It can involve people within the same or different generations, and the reasons for elder abuse can range from a lack of understanding of an older person’s needs, to an intentional, aggressive act.


Types of elder abuse

Elder abuse can take many different forms. The most common forms of elder abuse are financial abuse and neglect.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse describes any deliberate act that causes pain for, injury to, or intimidation of, an older person. This includes all forms of physical assault, along with the use of restraint by physical or chemical methods.

Psychological/emotional abuse

Psychological or emotional abuse involves any action or threat that causes fear of violence, isolation, deprivation, humiliation or powerlessness.

For example, treating the person like a child, preventing access to services, making threats (such as preventing them from seeing loved ones) or telling them they have dementia.

Social abuse

Social abuse is forced isolation that prevents or restricts the older person’s contact with friends, family or the community.

This could involve withholding or controlling mail or phone calls, preventing them from attending religious or cultural events, or taking over their home without consent. Social isolation often allows other forms of abuse to take place.

Financial abuse

This is the illegal, mismanagement or improper use of the older person’s finances.

This includes stealing money or possessions, controlling their finances without permission, threats or coercion to gain Power of Attorney or pressuring them for early inheritances.

Sexual abuse

Any sexual contact, language or display of pornography without the older person’s consent, or through coercion.

For example, making obscene phone calls in the person’s presence, inappropriate handling when undertaking personal care activities, or making the person perform a sexual act they don’t want to.

Neglect

Neglect involves the failure of a carer to provide basic necessities such as food, shelter, or medical care, or preventing someone else from providing them.

What elder abuse is not

Age discrimination, or an estranged relationship with a relative are not examples of elder abuse.

Elder abuse is also not a crime committed by a stranger. It does not involve self-neglect or self-mistreatment – rather, the abuse happens at the hands of a trusted person.

While elder abuse is now receiving increased attention and research, there are no easy solutions to identify and address this heartbreaking problem.

When is elder abuse likely to occur?

Some of the possible risk factors for elder abuse include situations where:

  • the carer is experiencing high levels of stress, for example, health or financial pressures
  • the older person is unable to stop or report abuse due to cognitive impairment or physical limitations
  • there is isolation as a result of location, cultural or language barriers, or health complications
  • the carer or older person is dealing with addiction
  • the carer or older person is dependent on the other person for support, for example, financially, socially, or physically.

What should I do if I’m being exploited or mistreated?

The first priority is your safety. If you feel threatened or unsafe, call 000. The police can assist you in removing an abusive person from your home, or help you to find safe accommodation.

If you decide to stay in the situation, having a safety plan can help you know what to do in an emergency. Organisations in the Where to get help section below can help you with this.

Finding someone to talk to and share your concerns with can be very helpful. This could be a trusted friend, family member or a trained person from a professional organisation.

If someone close to you is placing unwelcome restrictions on you, is emotionally mistreating you, or taking advantage of you financially, you may want to try to resolve things with them informally. Mediation services such as those provided by Relationships Australia Victoria could help to improve your situation. See Where to get help for more details.

You may be protective of the person mistreating or exploiting you, particularly if they are your adult children. It is important to remember that you have a right to feel comfortable and safe, and that people, including adult children, can get help for their problems. They may not be aware of the impact of their behaviour.

What should I do if I suspect elder abuse?

Elder abuse is distressing, and finding someone who understands the sensitive and confidential nature of the issue can help you in deciding what to do if you suspect an older person is being mistreated or exploited.

  • If someone is in immediate danger, call 000. 
  • Remember that physical and sexual abuse are criminal acts. Other types of abuse are assessed on their particular circumstances.
  • Where it’s appropriate, ask general questions about the person’s wellbeing and their relationships.
  • Blame and judgement are never helpful. Listen to what the older person says and be understanding. 
  • Understand that older people are often hesitant to cause trouble, as they may feel ashamed or worried about possible consequences.
  • Often, an older person feels protective of their adult children who may be mistreating or exploiting them. The adult child may have drug or alcohol dependency, mental health issues or difficult circumstances or challenges that are contributing to the abusive situation. An older person is more likely to accept help if they think their adult child’s needs will be considered and addressed. 
  • Keep a record of events. Taking note of signs and symptoms may help those who investigate, to effectively address the abuse. 
  • It is generally not advisable to confront the abuser without careful thought.
  • Reassure the older person that there is help available.
  • If the older person is willing to get support, help them contact a relevant organisation. See Where to get help.
  • If they are unwilling to get help, provide them with emotional support and offer contact details of support services should they want them later. Keep checking in on them where possible.
  • It’s important that an older person feels in control of the help seeking process.

Where to get help

The following organisations provide information and support for older people and concerned family and friends.

  • Lifeline provides support and referrals for those in crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 13 11 14.
  • Seniors Rights Victoria provides a free helpline for people who are experiencing, or know someone who is experiencing elder abuse. Call 1300 368 821.
  • UnitingCare Elder Abuse Helpline promotes the right of older people to live free from abuse. Call 1300 651 192.
  • Advocare supports and protects the rights of older people and people with disabilities. Call (03) 9479 7566.
  • My Aged Care is the Australian Government’s online and phone service with information about aged care services. Call 1800 200 422.
  • Elder Rights Advocacy provides advocacy assistance to support older people maintain their rights. Call 1800 700 600.
  • Relationships Australia Victoria’s Elder Relationship Service provides counselling and mediation to families who are experiencing conflict.
Download a PDF copy of this tip sheet.