Safety and Wellbeing for Older Women

On Tuesday the 11th of June in collaboration with the Inner West and Canterbury Elder Abuse Collaborate, Seniors Rights Service facilitated a free information day. Over 90 guests from diverse ethnic backgrounds attended the event held at the Newtown Wellness Centre. Aged care workers, seniors and researchers were greeted with stalls and a free coffee cart before settling in for the event.

The information session started with a performance from the ‘Older Women’s Network Performance Group’ who addressed the issues which seniors face through song and dance. Entertaining the crowd, the group of fiercely independent women sung about the importance of understanding and voicing your rights. This high paced show was followed by a procession of videos representing different situations where abuse or seniors exist. This covered topics financial and psychological abuse which can occur within the family. These videos provided visual examples of how abuse may exist without individuals being fully aware or feeling as if they are in a position where they are unable to do anything.

To answer questions on how to overcome these situations, a panel of five professionals from different fields were present. On this panel was Sargent Vincent Azzopardi – Crime Co-ordinator, Melissa Chaperlin – Seniors Rights Service Lawyer, Marisa Cordova, Short Term Aged Response Team, Mary Ciantar – Inner West Council, Yvonee Kapalatis – Financial Information Service Officer and Beverly Baker – Older Women’s Network. This wide variety of panelists ensured that guests had a broad range of perspectives to gain a more thorough understanding of the options they have when faced with abuse. The panel of experts also spoke about preventative strategies in order to avoid situations where individuals may be taken advantage of or abused.

After the presentation guests had the opportunity to talk to the panelists individually. Our social worker Kate Kennedy was also available to speak to and provided support for attendees. Seniors expressed their sense of empowerment through understanding their rights and courses of action they can take. Free hand massages and information services were also made available to guests. SRS among other rights groups had an information desk where guests were able to receive information and pamphlets.

Through our independent evaluation forms, we learnt that all guests learnt something new and found it a very good event. Many guests also asked for similar events to be held more often and expressed their sense of empowerment. Seniors attending expressed that they enjoyed learning but also the sense of community and inclusion that this event provided.