Age Concern today releases statistics from its Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention services around New Zealand.
“It is Age Concern’s vision that all people will one day be able to live in dignity and security, free of exploitation
and abuse. During the last three years 1,533 older men and women, who were victims of abuse or neglect, were able to
receive services aimed at stopping the abuse and putting in place safeguards to prevent the abuse occurring again,” says
Dr Margaret Guthrie, National President of Age Concern New Zealand.
In addition to helping victims receive the services they need, Age Concern’s elder abuse services provide education and
awareness raising programmes. “Awareness of the issues of elder abuse and neglect within the community has now increased
substantially. As a result, older people and their carers feel more able to ask for help, and know where to go to get
it. We are finding that more people are coming to us before their situation reaches crisis point. This is an excellent
sign of the success of our work and a reduction in people suffering,” says Dr Guthrie. Age Concern has been funded to
provide 15 services around New Zealand since 1998.
However, to be able to continue with this work, Age Concern is reliant on the contribution of other professionals and
organisations in the community to assist meeting the needs of the older people they see.
“Health sector reforms have had a negative impact on the availability of assistance, such as the loss of health social
workers and greater pressures upon GPs. This severely compromises the viability of this multi-disciplinary service that
older people need. It is placing greater pressures upon the limited resources of the voluntary sector, “ says Dr
Age Concern has been calling for the formulation of a National Plan on Ageing since 1998. There is an internationally
recognised need for Governments to take a role in preparing for an ageing population, well resourced national service
infrastructures that enhance, safeguard and preserve the well-being of older people and promote their participation in
society. Many Governments in the Asia-Pacific region have already established such National Plans.
“Prevention of elder abuse and neglect is one of many areas which the Government and communities of New Zealand need to
consider when facing the challenges of an ageing population,” said Dr Guthrie. “We need to work together with Government
and other organisations in the community to foster a healthy approach to ageing and an abuse free environment for people
across the ages”.