First, journalist Ellen Fanning conducted a fascinating series of interviews with experts at the 5th National Elder Abuse Conference.
Next, Seniors Rights Service developed the 18 interviews – covering a broad range of topics around elder abuse – into educational video kits, along with discussion sheets and recommended reading.
Now those kits are being taken on the road to help raise awareness and stimulate discussion around the shocking issue of the abuse of older people, and to empower community members and community leaders to spread the word even further.
With funding from Family And Community Services, Seniors Rights Service engaged solicitor Rosalie Gibson and health educator Maree Montgomery to use the kits as the basis for a series of forums and discussion groups across Sydney and New South Wales – with citizens, community groups, sector workers and organisations. Other Seniors Rights Service staff have also been involved in the forums.
The rationale behind the video project is that when communities lead their own discussions, the stigma and shame associated with the abuse of older people begins to break down. The kits help empower people to create their own conversations and lead their own responses to reduce the risk of elder abuse. In this way, we hope to reach communities that existing service reach cannot attain.
Rosalie’s work took her to groups all across Sydney. The videos deal with all forms of abuse, including financial, social, sexual and psychological, and cover different communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQ+ and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Different videos were used depending on the audience and after each viewing, groups were encouraged to discuss the issues raised and to complete evaluation forms.
More than 200 people attended Rosalie’s sessions, and feedback was very positive.
Said one attendee: “(The videos) helped to shed light on a topic not often discussed, bringing up the issue of abusing elderly people, and letting everyone think of educating their family members.”
Rosalie says the positive response indicates “a need to continue this project. This exercise has been successful in reaching audiences and informing them about the services on offer.”
Meanwhile, Maree has conducted forums in Albury and Wagga, with others to follow throughout November in Coonabarabran, Tamworth, Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Goulburn.
She plans further forums in the new year and can hold even more if people request them.
The sessions in Wagga and Albury attracted 30 people from both the community and professional sectors.
In Albury in particular, people opened up about abuse in their own families.
“They made themselves vulnerable, disclosing things about family members,” Maree says. “They were difficult conversations but we were all enriched by these people sharing their experiences.”
She says the kits are invaluable in that they make it easier for people to talk about an often-taboo topic.
“They allow the unpacking of a difficult subject and give us the scaffolding to work around.”
For more information, or to book an education forum, contact Seniors Rights Service on 1800 424 079 or visit our website.
View and download the FREE video kits here.