• Robyn McDonald
Senior Citizens

The Minister for Senior Citizens, Hon Robyn McDonald announced today that the Coalition Government will provide $340,000 to help Age Concern elder abuse and neglect services continue.

"These programmes are considered to be an excellent prevention measure in dealing with elder abuse and neglect," said Robyn McDonald.

Age Concern operates seven programmes around the country. These programmes are in Whangarei, North Shore, Auckland, Wanganui, Wellington, Christchurch and Invercargill. The programme in Christchurch is a joint initiative between Presbyterian Support Services and Age Concern Canterbury.

"Since 1992 when the first programmes were started, funding has been primarily provided through the Lottery Aged Committee of the Lottery Grants Board. In the Coalition Government's Budget, funding will now be provided through the New Zealand Community Funding Agency of the Department of Social Welfare.

"Elder abuse and neglect has only received recognition in recent years, both internationally and in New Zealand. Elder abuse is a form of family violence and we need to raise awareness within our communities about it.

"Elder abuse falls into four main categories: physical, psychological, sexual and financial. Elder neglect covers active or intentional neglect and passive neglect when there is a refusal or failure by a carer because of inadequate knowledge or infirmity, to provide basic necessities. Both types of neglect can result in harmful physical, psychological, material and social effects.

"Recent research data obtained from the seven pilot programmes reflect the need for these programmes. I believe these statistics are just the tip of the ice-berg and from these seven programmes, it is considered that there are approximately 8,700 older New Zealanders who may be suffering some form of abuse and neglect. Information collected from the seven programmes show:

41 cases of abuse per month;
estimated 495 cases in one year (371 confirmed cases in 9 months);
71% of clients over 65 years were women;
39% of cases involved psychological abuse;
30% of cases involved financial abuse;
41% of cases, abuse had been occurring for more than one year;
43% of abusers were the son or daughter of the abused person. A further 5% of abusers were sons-in-law and daughters-in-law.
"The seven programmes currently operating work on a co-ordinated team and community approach involving a local co-ordinator, case workers, and representatives from Police, Income Support and health professionals.

"I believe by raising awareness of elder abuse and neglect within communities, we can ensure that elderly people are better protected from such abuse and neglect. Elder abuse is simply not acceptable and these programmes highlight that there is help available", said Robyn McDonald.