'Pension day' abuse of elderly koories

THURSDAY — pension  payment day — is often when pensioners and elders are most at risk of abuse. 

Parents and grandparents are increasingly facing abuse from loved ones, particularly when it comes to family finances and pension money. 

Warrnambool’s Gundit-jmara co-operative has become one of a few places in Victoria to begin targeting the issue. 

“It’s behind closed doors or it’s swept under the carpet a lot of the times. People feel shame that ‘my own family is doing it, I don’t want to dob on them,” Gunditjmara chief executive Marcus Clarke said. 

“A lot of it might be the money side. Come pension day on Thursday you’ve got the family on your doorstep. As Aboriginal people we’re sharing. We share money and support.

“It’s ingrained into our culture but some people take it to that next level and stand over people, and they might have drug and alcohol issues or gambling issues and they don’t see it’s affecting everything.” 

Seniors Rights Victoria manager Jenny Blakey said it was often difficult for elders to acknowledge the abuse.

“It’s very hard for parents (or grandparents) to admit that your children are doing this to you,” she said. 

Aged care and disability manager Glenda Thompson is keen to emphasise that it is a problem across all communities.

“It’s not just in this community, it’s in mainstream community and Aboriginal community. Elder abuse is mostly from family or people that they trust. It could be standing over them for their assets, money, food or young people wanting money just to spend themselves,” Ms Thompson said.

Gunditjmara will start briefing workers on the tell-tale signs of when older people may be facing abuse. It has also released advocacy material this week with the blunt message saying “any abuse of any elders is a real dog act”. 

The new material urges people to care for elders, the custodians of culture. 

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