Elder abuse service saved her from her son (ABC News)
Mary-Lou* has been frightened of her adult son for decades. The 85-year-old, who can’t be named to protect her safety, said her son used to park his car across her driveway to block her in her home, and then demand money. He used to want to trap me,” she said. “He’d come in, pick up an umbrella and put a hole through the wall.” She said the abuse was all about money and control — he would rack up hotel bills in her name, or fines. He’d tell me to “move into an old aged home, sell this place”.
She said he told her he wished she would stop breathing because he couldn’t stand the sound, threatened her “all the time”, and caused damage multiple times by throwing things at the walls. “I was humiliated, horrified and felt all alone,” she said.
One in six Australians are believed to be suffering elder abuse.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)
But Mary-Lou’s experience is far from isolated.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies estimates one in six older Australians are experiencing elder abuse, a figure experts say is rising.
Mary-Lou had help from police and a solicitor to get intervention orders, then in 2019 she found a family case worker funded through the Victorian government’s integrated model of care for elder abuse program. She said at the time, she had suicidal thoughts. “If it wasn’t for them [Elder abuse services], I don’t know what I would have done. I was thinking all sorts of funny thoughts,” she said. “I was just locked.” The program Mary-Lou relies on ends next month (August 2023), due to a decision by the Victorian Government to defund 70% of the specialist elder abuse family consultant positions in Victoria.
Integrated Model of Care (IMOC)
As of August 2023, the Victorian Government is defunding 70% of the specialist elder abuse specialist positions in Victoria. For referrers and enquiries about the integrated model of care (IMOC) service ceasing mid-August 2023, Better Place Australia can provide Elder Abuse Specialist Services through Orange Doors in certain local government areas. Click here for more