A warm, safe Cardinia Shire for all seniors

Published: 23 June 2024

Cardinia Shire Council and community came together to raise elder abuse awareness through the Warm Safe Home project in the lead up to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, celebrated annually on 15 June.

The Warm Safe Home project, led by Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV), Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria, and Housing for the Aged (HAAG) encouraged organisations and community groups to create small-scale model houses that represent what a warm, safe home means to them.

The project aims to raise awareness of elder abuse, housing affordability, and other issues that face seniors across Victoria, and focuses on increasing and improving awareness of the rights of everyone to a warm safe home, free from elder abuse.

As part of the project, Cardinia Shire Council facilitated workshops, including a community event with the Pakenham Senior Citizens Centre, where participants discussed elder abuse, including recognising signs, promoting awareness, and emphasising the right to a safe home.

Each of the houses built include a message about what a warm safe home means to the creator, including for example, what made them feel safe and loved at their grandparents’ homes and what brings them happiness in their own homes.

The final artworks were publicly displayed at Pakenham Library (Henry St, Pakenham) in the lead up to WEAAD on 15 June.

To view a collection of artworks from across Victoria, including those from Cardinia Shire, visit the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day website's Warm Safe Home online exhibition.

Cardinia Shire Mayor Councillor Jack Kowarzik said Council was proud to facilitate local participation in this event, emphasising the collective role of Council and community in creating a safe community for all, especially for vulnerable seniors.

“Supporting World Elder Abuse Awareness Day each year is part of Council’s demonstrated commitment to supporting vulnerable seniors and promoting their wellbeing within Cardinia Shire,” Mayor Kowarzik said.

“As an Age-Friendly Community, we recognise that community safety for all is a shared responsibility. We must work together to give seniors a voice, be prepared to listen, advocate for their needs, and support them to live healthy and fulfilling lives within a safe Cardinia Shire.

Elder abuse can take many forms and it is usually committed by someone familiar to the victim, with two thirds of abusers being an adult child. Abuse may be physical or come in the forms of financial, emotional, psychological, sexual, or social harm. Additionally, the severity of the abuse can vary and it may be an isolated event or ongoing.

“The unfortunate reality for some older people in the community, is that they cannot feel safe or supported in their own homes, within their families or out in their community,” the Mayor explained.

“Safeguarding our seniors from elder abuse is crucially a collective role of governments and community. Addressing factors that contribute to the problem, such as working to ensure affordable housing options are available, particularly for vulnerable people, and creating awareness about elder abuse, how it happens, and what support is available – it all helps.

“By participating in and supporting WEAAD each year, and working to increase affordable housing availability within Cardinia Shire, we are creating awareness and improved conditions for our local seniors to speak out, avoid or leave situations where they are vulnerable to elder abuse.”

Find out more about elder abuse, including resources and support, from Seniors Rights Victoria online.

Getting help

If you or someone you know in Victoria is experiencing elder abuse, help is available.

Older people experiencing or at risk of elder abuse can contact Seniors Rights Victoria’s confidential helpline on 1300 368 821.

Concerned friends or family can visit the Seniors Rights Victoria website at www.seniorsrights.org.au for information, support, and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity, and independence of older people.

For nationwide assistance, and to access additional resources in 20 different languages, please contact the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374).

If it is an emergency, call 000.

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