Sutherland Shire carers take a stand against abuse of older people

Published On 17 August 2017 at 12:13 PM

Every year one in twenty older residents in our community experience abuse at the hands of people they know and trust. Only one in five of these cases are identified and reported to authorities. 

Motivated by these shocking statistics, a collaborative of local community aged care providers is working alongside Council to raise awareness and combat this problem head on.

On Thursday 27 July the collaborative partnered with Sutherland Shire Council to host an elder abuse education seminar for 80 in-home and community based aged care workers and health professionals. 

“People of any age have a right to respect, dignity and a safe and happy life.  It’s absolutely vital that we educate our community’s carers and service providers to recognise signs of abuse to older people in Sutherland Shire,” said Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce while officially opening the seminar.

The workshop explored hypothetical situations with a panel of experts from NSW Police, Health, Legal Aid, carer support and our Aboriginal community. 

"We wanted to give the services some understanding of the complexity of abuse situations", said Melinda Paterson, Collaborative convenor.

A quarter of the Sutherland Shire’s aged population are vulnerable people who rely on support from family, friends and care services to live comfortably in their own homes.  They are at risk of abuse which can take many forms: physical harm, sexual assault and emotional abuse. 

69% of alleged abuse is psychological or financial and it’s a common situation that older people who are too trusting of their adult children can lose their money and other assets. The panel explored how to identify and respond to abuse, which often involves important relationships that older people want to retain.  

"We aim to find ways of helping people who just need the abuse to stop and to feel safe”, added Ms Paterson.

The collaborative also took advantage of the seminar to launch a new resource guide for aged care workers.

If this article has raised issues for you, please contact the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline and Resource Unit (EAHRU) on 1800 628 221 or visit

“It’s critical that anyone who suspects an older person is being abused to contact the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline,” said the Mayor.

If you are a professional and want copies of the resource card or information about future meetings, contact the Sector Support Development Officer, Melinda Paterson at

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