In late 1998, a number of South Australian agencies combined their efforts with a view to improving and challenging the way that abuse of older people is understood and addressed.
Definition of abuse of older people:
“Elder abuse is any act occurring within a relationship where there is an implication of trust, which results in harm to an older person. Abuse can include physical, sexual, financial, psychological, social and / or neglect.”
The Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (APEA) members are key stakeholders in relation to responding to the abuse and exploitation of older people. These organisations are often referred to as ‘agencies of last resort’ in helping to prevent or minimise the risk of abuse.
APEA comprises of the following organisations:
The Legal Services Commission of South Australia
The Office of the Public Advocate
South Australia Police, Home Assist Program
Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS)
APEA undertakes a range of activities through:
The sharing of experience and knowledge from multidisciplinary perspectives on common issues concerning abuse. Members of APEA recognise that collaboration between agencies enables the issues relating to abuse of older people to be addressed in a more comprehensive manner. Financial abuse was reported as being the most common form of abuse by all agencies. Consequently, APEA focuses on preventative strategies and collaborative responses to financial abuse.
In raising awareness of the range of issues related to financial exploitation APEA promotes the inclusion of protective conditions and safeguards when completing Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directive documents. It is anticipated that financial abuse is likely to increase given our current economic climate and rapidly ageing population.
APEA provides free education sessions for service providers, students and professional groups on the topic of abuse of older people. These sessions raise awareness of the issue as well as providing opportunities for discussion about specific situations. APEA organisations also provide a point of contact for services seeking information and advice to assist their customers.
Over the last 10 years APEA members have presented numerous education sessions and participated in many panel discussions including the annual ARAS World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) conference in June each year.
APEA has produced a set of 5 brochures to assist older people to maintain control and plan for a safe financial future:
Safeguarding Your Finances
Appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney
The Duties and Responsibilities of your Enduring Power of Attorney
Appointing a Substitute Decision Maker
Duties and Responsibilities of a Substitute Decision Maker
APEA also produced a publication to assist Justices of the Peace in fulfilling their role. This is titled ‘Witnessing Documents’.