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Forum helps raise awareness on elder abuse

Jun 14, 2017

The Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) hosted a networking forum to bring together stakeholders in the aged-care industry in the country to talk about elder abuse issues and to look at ways to better address and prevent such abuse from happening.

Elder abuse does not have to be physical; for many victims it is financial exploitation, psychological abuse or neglect by their children or spouse or others in positions of trust.

The event, held in Suva today, was a collaboration between APTC and the Fiji Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Fiji National Council of Older Persons.

APTC, supported by the Australian Government, delivers Australian skills and qualifications for a wide range of vocational careers for skilled workers in the Pacific. This includes training workers in communities or aged care homes who are providing personal care for the elderly.

“Elder abuse is a bigger problem than most people realise.  Today’s forum and the march tomorrow will hopefully be the start of educating the wider community about this growing issue, so our most respected citizens can enjoy later life,” said Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Margaret Twomey.

In opening the forum, APTC Chief Executive Officer, Ms Denise O’Brien welcomed the industry stakeholders.   

“APTC is pleased to be able to offer quality training to those who wish to work with the elderly. Increasingly we see that there is a need to support the elderly either at home or in hospital or dedicated aged care facilities.  All our older citizens’ deserve to be safe and age with dignity and respect.  This is at the heart of care for our elderly,” she said.

The Fijian Government is committed to strengthen partnerships with community-based stakeholders to create awareness on the issue as well as develop formalized referral and intervention mechanisms to address elder abuse in Fiji.

Speakers at the forum included the Director of Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, Mr Ashwin Raj, General Practitioner, Dr Krupali Tappoo, and Manager of Father Law Home, Sister Mere Lauwai, and Ms Neelum Kumar from Samabula Senior Citizen’s Home.

The speakers provided details on statistics on elder abuse, different forms and signs of abuse, challenges faced in care facilities and communities across Fiji, as well as ways to best address such abuse.  

The forum was attended by representatives from Father Law Home, Babasiga Home, Golden Age Home, Home of Compassion, Pearce Homes, Samabula Senior Citizens Home, SOLON Retirement Home, Tamavua Rehabilitation Unit and HART Fiji. Representatives from Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Australian High Commission, Fiji National University, Sangam College of Nursing, Empower Pacific, and faith-based organisations were also present.

The forum is a buildup to the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) events on 15 June. There will be a march from the Suva Flea Market at 9.00am followed by a formal address by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Honourable Mereseini Vuniwaqa, at Albert Park.

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