A new source of data on elder abuse is revealing valuable insights into this rapidly emerging social issue. FMC’s Respecting Elders program launched 12 months ago has collected data from 200 actual cases of abuse. The data identifies potential triggers for abuse including changes in an older person’s health, financial situation or cognitive status. Changes in their adult children’s finances, relationship status or mental health issues are also potential triggers of abuse by the adult children.

Serge Sardo the CEO of FMC says “Since launching our Respecting Elders service we have been surprised that the largest sources of referrals have been families and carer networks. These plus self-referrals account for 45% of all service requests. The general consensus amongst referrers is that they were reluctant to report the abuse to the police or legal centres, as they believed the issue was predominantly a family issue rather than a legal or criminal issue”.

FMC provides a wrap-around services approach to older people, often either providing or referring the older person to a range of related services. One surprising finding was that only 6% of cases were referred to legal services. The shame of the older person experiencing abuse from their own child means that they seek a less confrontational way to resolve their situation. The majority of services provided were financial counselling, family meetings/dispute resolution and counselling support for the older person.

“We have been surprised by the high demand for financial counselling and capability development amongst our clients experiencing elder abuse.  Older women who are widowed or no longer with a partner are at a higher risk of predatory behaviour from their children, and as such financial capability development is an important strategy in reducing the risk of elder abuse for women’ says Serge Sardo.

Client outcomes of this model of care have been promising with 75% of older people who underwent family meetings and/or mediation, reached an agreement and abuse no longer being reported; and 78% reported reduced conflict.


Read the Elder Abuse Discussion Paper here.

FMC Mediation and Counselling is a not for profit agency in Australia that has been providing Family Dispute Resolution support, relationship support, psychological services and financial counselling for over thirty years. From 25 locations, FMC supports over 8500 Victorians every year, many of whom are experiencing family, relationship, financial issues and other related challenges.

For more information or interviews please contact Graeme Westaway, Executive Manager Communications (0438 318 311) graeme.westaway@mediation.com.au

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