A new National Elder Abuse Hub will provide a much-needed single source of information on elder abuse services, resources and research for consumers, service providers, professionals and academics.
The online hub, which is currently in development, will be funded by low-cost advertising from not-for-profit service providers seeking to promote their support and outreach services.
Among the components of the hub will be information on the different types of elder abuse; a state-by-state directory of service providers; current and previous research; state government initiatives; and relevant training for health and community professionals.
Delegates at the upcoming National Elder Abuse Conference in Perth will see the latest mock-up of the hub and hear about its development.
Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of her presentation at the conference, Marilyn Crabtree, chief executive of Aged Rights Advocacy Service SA, said she hoped the hub would create a “national focal point” for the multitude of resources and services currently available.
As AAA has previously reported, Australia currently does not have a national approach to elder abuse. Agencies responding to elder abuse are funded by their respective state governments, which has led to an inconsistent approach nationally.
Ms Crabtree, who has been working on the hub’s development for the past year, said it will enable services and professionals working in the field to share information, resources and knowledge. This would lead to greater efficiencies for the service providers, all of which were working with “very limited resources,” she said.
Similarly, it will catalogue research studies underway or recently completed and help to disseminate findings.
The lack of a national approach currently meant service providers, professionals and researchers were working in silos, Ms Crabtree said.
“I realised that, in Australia, you go to conferences interstate and hear about programs and research that you had no idea about,” she said. “In a country like Australia we should be able to get together, exchange information, find out what each other are doing and share that.
“We think it will also help to create a national picture, by showing what each of the state governments are doing. It will build the profile of elder abuse as a national issue – because it tends to be seen as a state issue rather than a federal issue.”
For older people, the hub will be a means of raising awareness of the different kinds of elder abuse. Importantly, it will connect them to the supports already available in their area, she said.
“They will be able to search for services to find out what support is available where they live.”
Discussing the hub’s development, Ms Crabtree said it would initially target service providers, and in the second phase would broaden its reach to include professionals. The third phase would target older people and the general public.
This is an ideal moment in time to develop this hub, Ms Crabtree said. “We’re at the beginning of exploring this social issue of elder abuse. [Aged Rights Advocacy Service SA] has been doing this since 1997 but a lot of the other states are just getting into it. Let’s get together and have a directory of what’s happening.”
The 2014 National Elder Abuse Conference takes places in Perth from 3-4 September. Australian Ageing Agenda is the conference media partner.