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Bribie leads the way in elder abuse solution

HERE TO HELP: A police officer takes details off a senior woman for an alleged elder abuse incident.
HERE TO HELP: A police officer takes details off a senior woman for an alleged elder abuse incident. Contributed

BRIBIE Island will play host to the state's first seniors information session of its kind as police suspect issues such as elder abuse are under-reported in the community.

Studies are still being collated as to the true effect of elder abuse on our aging population, but last October Minister for Seniors Croalee O'Rourke reported there was a 21% increase in reported cases compared to the previous year.

The issue is so serious that Queensland Police created a new role within the Domestic, Family Violence and Vulnerable Persons unit last year to specifically target the crime.

Acting Senior Sergeant Leisa Wathen stepped into that role four months ago and is responsible for the Safer Older Wiser information session coming to Bribie Island.

"We're looking at a whole government strategy to address elder abuse and one of the biggest ones is financial abuse,” she said.

"There's still some reports being sorted so I can't comment on statistics, but we suspect it's being under-reported.

"Seniors are highly represented and a bit more vulnerable to these sorts of crimes... if you look at our demographics there's an increase to elderly people, so it's about how we position ourselves for the future.”

Presenters include speakers from Seniors Inquiry Line, Seniors Legal and Support Service, the Public Trustee and Office of the Public Guardian, which is a state first.

As well as providing information, the session aims to take feedback so police can develop strategies against elder abuse.

Bribie Island Police senior sergeant David Crawford- Raby said, while he hadn't observed any spikes in the crime, many groups from the island expressed interest in finding out more.

"We engage in a regular schedule of activities given our population is heavily weighted in a big proportion to senior citizens,” he said.

"The nature of scams does change over time and it's an ever present issue within the community and it's important to revisit those themes.

"We have community groups regularly asking us to come and speak to them about elder abuse; they want to know more and be better informed.”

People have until Monday to RSVP for the session, which will be held from 9-11.30am on June 22 at Bribie island RSL, 99 Toorbul St, Bongaree.

To book, phone 1300 135 500 or report a crime to Policelink on 131 444.


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