Trial to see GP clinics work to combat elder abuse
DOCTORS across metropolitan Brisbane are being enlisted to participate in a program to raise public awareness of elder abuse issues within their communities.
The Queensland Law Society and the Australian Medical Association of Queensland have joined forces to launch today the trial in conjunction with 315 GP clinics.
Potential victims will be encouraged to disclose suspected abuse to their medical confidantes.
The clinicians and staff are also being asked to look out for the symptoms of elder abuse among their patients and refer them to support services such as the Elder Abuse Helpline and QLS's Find a Solicitor Service.
The QLS has produced materials and resources to assist the clinic staff.
QLS President Christine Smyth said elder abuse takes many forms, in particular physical, emotional and financial.
"Our vulnerable senior citizens should not suffer from abuse in any form. Elder abuse is real, it is insidious and can happen to anyone across all walks of life," Ms Smyth said.
"Imagine feeling isolated, alone, taken advantage of and perhaps as if you were a burden to your family.
"Unfortunately this is what many elder Australians feel each and every day, in a time of their lives when they should be enjoying the fruits of their labour.
"Our elderly deserve better. In a society beset with violence, we must protect the vulnerable. It is our duty."
The selected GP clinics are located within the Brisbane North Public Health Network which covers urban and regional areas and over 900,000 people.
"The reason for this sample is it gives a good cross section of the diversity of Queensland and will provide data to show where this program is needed most in future," a QLS spokesperson said.
Ms Smyth said that the program could be extended across Queensland and the rest of Australia if it proves successful.
"Our genuine wish is that this trial will create a robust public debate to help de-stigmatise an issue many elderly people feel uncomfortable speaking about," Mr Smyth said.
"On the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we wish to highlight the issue of elder abuse and ensure that our elderly are included in this important dialogue.
"As a society I think we also need more than dialogue, we need action.
"We need to say to those who have suffered or are suffering from elder abuse that you are not alone, you do not deserve this and it is not your fault.
"As a profession, we must hold true to our duty to help the vulnerable, those who cannot help