Peel worst for elder abuse in WA regions, new figures show

Peel worst for elder abuse in WA regions, new figures show

Concerning statistics have been revealed, highlighting a continued issue with elder abuse in the Peel region.

Figures from Legal Aid WA's Seniors Rights and Advocacy Service, recorded since February 2019, show Peel as the worst region in the state for cases of elder abuse, outside of the Perth metropolitan area.

Legal Aid WA (LAWA) received 71 calls for elder abuse service assistance from locals in the Peel region in just over a year.

The region with the next highest demand for help is the Wheatbelt, with 44 calls for assistance for elder abuse.

Last year, the Mandurah Mail tackled the issue of physical, emotional and financial abuse directed at some of the community's most vulnerable people.

According to Relationships Australia, elder abuse is most commonly committed by a family member of the victim and can take on many forms including financial, psychological, physical, sexual, social and neglect.

Media reports exposing the shocking systematic abuse in some residential facilities and nursing homes across Australia prompted the announcement of a Royal Commission September, 2018.

The Peel region benefited as a result, with the federal government pledging $18 million over four years to fund a free Peel Relationships Australia elder abuse service.

However, the issue is still prevalent across the Peel region and the state, with statistics showing about one in 20 older West Australians suffer some form of elder abuse.

Over 60 per cent of the abusers turn out to be their sons or daughters.

The LAWA service was set up to assist vulnerable West Australians who were experiencing elder abuse.

Of these services provided so far, the majority have been in relation to financial abuse from a family member, as well as stealing, misusing an enduring power of attorney, pressuring an older person to make loans and applying pressure to older parents to sign guarantee documents.

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LAWA's Civil Law director Justin Stevenson said there had recently been an increase in adult children applying to the State Administrative Tribunal for orders for guardianship and administration.

"LAWA is concerned about some of these cases where adult children are inappropriately seeking to take away the ability of their parent to make their own decisions about where they live and what they spend their money on," he said.

"Clients come to us because they feel like their independence or autonomy is being taken away from them, and in some cases, it looks like inheritance impatience.

"In some instances, this essentially amounts to stealing."

Across WA, elder abuse services have been in high demand with more than 1000 calls for assistance - most of these from the Perth metropolitan area.

"The Seniors Rights and Advocacy Service is here to help protect vulnerable elderly West Australians with its compassionate, client-centred advice and assistance service," Mr Stevenson said.