Frontline staff commit to Standing Strong for WEAAD

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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) 2024 has come and gone, but older people are likely to experience it all year round. Advocare hears about elder abuse every week. In June, we proudly delivered or attended more than 35 elder abuse awareness information sessions during WEAAD throughout WA.


Montage of Standing Strong event guests
Image bottom left, L-R: David Thompson, Barbara Blundell, Louise Johnstone Forster and Rob Cory.

Our major metropolitan event, the ‘Standing Strong, Speaking Out Elder Abuse Forum’, was held at The Hub at Bentley Technology Park on June 12. Its purpose was to focus on spreading the word to organisations with frontline and first responder staff who deal with older people during the course of their day.

Attended by close to 70 people, including local government representatives, WA Health, WA Police, Lifeline and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the forum shone a light on elder abuse – what it is, how to see the warning signs and how to respond to an older person you think might be experiencing it.

We were fortunate to have a great panel of speakers who were able to share their real-life experiences:

  • Dr Jags Krishnan, MLA (a General Practitioner for 15+ years)
  • Rob Cory (Bankwest)
  • Dr Barbara Blundell (Curtin School of Social Work)
  • David Thompson (Advocare, Financial Advocate)
Dr Jags Krishnan at Advocare elder abuse awareness event
Guest speaker, Dr Jags Krishnan, MLA, GP

What was covered on the day

In the interests of continually raising awareness about elder abuse, a summary of the key points covered is shared below.

1. Validation and support:

  • Encouraging older adults to share their experiences and validating their concerns.
  • Providing information on strategies to reduce or prevent abuse.
  • Offering legal options if necessary.
  • Supporting individuals who wish to take action against abuse.

2. Family member involvement:

  • Informing family members about the abuse and their role in supporting the older person.
  • Emphasising that the victim must decide whether to take action.

3. Barriers to reporting:

  • Understanding that older adults may be reluctant to report abuse due to family loyalty or fear of repercussions.
  • Educating family members about the importance of respecting the older person’s decision.

4. Elder abuse awareness:

  • Lack of awareness about elder abuse is a significant barrier.
  • Advocating for more education and awareness in the community and among aged care providers and first responders.

5. Cultural considerations:

  • Recognising the diversity in cultural perceptions of elder abuse.
  • Providing support that respects cultural differences and uses appropriate terminology.
  • Utilising community legal centres and interpreters to assist those from diverse backgrounds.

6. Media and ageism:

  • Media can perpetuate ageist attitudes, which may contribute to elder abuse.
  • Promoting positive representations of older adults in the media.

7. Support services:

  • Organisations like Advocare provide confidential support and work with legal centres to assist older adults.
  • Banks and other service providers can play a role in identifying and preventing financial abuse.

8. Case example:

  • Discussing strategies for an older person dealing with an adult child who exploits their resources.
  • Options include mediation, legal action, and involving family in decision-making.

9. Digital banking challenges:

  • Transitioning to digital banking can be difficult for some older adults.
  • Community bankers and educational workshops can help older adults bank safely online.
  • Ensuring older adults who prefer face-to-face banking are supported in transitioning to appropriate services.

10. Scams and fraud:

  • Educating older adults about common scams and how to protect themselves.
  • Banks offering immediate responses like blocking accounts and setting up new ones to prevent further financial abuse.

11. Collaboration and referrals:

  • Banks and organisations like Advocare work together to provide comprehensive support.
  • Referrals to appropriate services for issues beyond the immediate capabilities of frontline staff.

Access more information

Your interest in finding out more about elder abuse is a vital first step towards building greater respect for older people and making the community a safer place for them.

If you want to find out more, visit our website for information and resources to support you or you can book an information session for your work team that can be tailored to suit your needs.

During the morning, our guest Rob Cory from Bankwest also mentioned the free Community Workshops to support older customers through their shift to digital banking. Find out more about these demand-led sessions and if there’s one planned near you soon here  Community banking workshop | Forms | Bankwest.

Advocare also operates the free and confidential WA Elder Abuse Helpline. If you need support or information for someone you think may be experiencing elder abuse or are at risk, call 1300 724 679.

Bankwest’s response to audience questions

During the forum we ran out of time to respond to some audience questions written  down for the panel discussion. Bankwest has kindly responded to two of these in this statement.

Q. What is Bankwest doing to support older customers, who might not be confident in banking digitally, through this transition and why has it made this decision?

“We know this transition will be challenging for some of our customers and Bankwest has introduced a range of support measures to help regular branch users.

We understand having access to a branch is important for some customers, which is why we implemented a dedicated program that proactively identified about 2,000 Bankwest customers who only use a branch and have contacted them to support them in transitioning to a CBA everyday banking account, if they choose to do so, so they can continue to access branches.

We are currently operating Community Banking Workshops across the state, which comprise of two parts, the first being a presentation on how to bank digitally and to do so safely, securely, and with confidence, and the second part being one-on-one support with our colleagues on customers’ own devices.

We have so far held more than 60 of these workshops, with almost 700 attendees, and the same number currently registered for upcoming workshops, with the majority of these attendees older customers who have provided feedback that the sessions have helped them feel comfortable engaging with digital banking.

A specialist Bankwest Community Assistance team has also been setup in our WA-based 24/7 contact centre to offer customers needing more help priority phone support from specially trained colleagues.

Our partnership with Australia Post also provides customers who prefer face-to-face banking services and who wish to remain with Bankwest access to Bank@Post at more than 350 Australia Post offices in WA, offering many everyday banking and cash services.

Customers also continue to have fee-free access to CBA’s network of 132 ATMs in WA, including deposit ATMs.

It’s critical we prioritise investment for the majority of our customers who expect leading digital and broker banking services, and rarely use branches, but we have a clear focus on the needs of our regular branch users at this time, as demonstrated by the support measures in place.” (Bankwest.)

The WA Elder Abuse Helpline is a free and confidential service you can call on 1300 724 679.