Heavy snowfall forced the cancellation of the Senior's Expo but it couldn't stop the official launch of the Central West's Collaborative for the Prevention of Abuse and Older People on Thursday.
There was also no stopping a visitation from the expo's guest speaker - the NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald.
At a very scaled-back affair, the Commissioner met Orange City Council representatives as well as members of the collaborative, including Charles Sturt University's Orange-based elder law expert Susan Field.
Mr Fitzgerald explained that elder abuse - which can take the form of financial, psychological, physical and sexual abuse - is part of the social epidemic that is family violence because the perpetrators are overwhelmingly the victim's adult children. While when it came to the abuse of people with disabilities, the perpetrators were very often their parents.
In the year before Mr Fitzgerald was appointed Commissioner in 2019, there were 6,500 calls to the elder abuse helpline.
In the Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline's first year of operation from 2019 to 2020, there were 10,000 calls. Over the past year there have been 14,000.
"Seventy-five percent of those calls were about elder abuse. Twenty-five percent was in relation to people with a disability," Mr Fitzgerald said.
"Most [elder] abuse is likely to occur... to older women between the age of 75 and 85 years of age - that's when it peaks - and the reason for that is that three things comes together [for victims of that age]. The first is we become more frail; The second is we become more dependent, and third: many of us start to slip in terms of our capacity so.... the critical risk factors are elevated."
The Commissioner added that if the wider community wasn't engaged in the conversation surrounding elder abuse, "you have no chance of preventing it".
"In ageing, the two biggest types of abuse are psychological abuse and financial abuse, and generally they go together," Mr Fitzgerald said.
"Psychological abuse is about coercion, it's about some family member or trusted person [who] starts taking control of the decision-making on behalf of the older person. And they do so in a way which is not to the benefit of the older person."
If you or someone you know does not feel free to make their own choices and requires advice, contact the Ageing and Disability Abuse Helpline on 1800 628 221.
For counselling and support with domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
In an emergency, call 000.
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