COVID-19, social isolation and financial pressures on older children have created an elder abuse "perfect storm" according to the Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson.
She was speaking on International Day of Older Persons (October 1) as the Australian Human Rights Commission launches a new elder abuse awareness campaign.
The campaign features a hard-hitting video that reveals 'red flag phrases' that can often indicate an older person is experiencing elder abuse.
Pre-COVID-19, the Australian Institute of Family Studies said it was likely that between 2 per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians were experiencing elder abuse in any given year, with financial abuse the most prevalent form.
The Commission is concerned that COVID-19 has heightened the risk of elder abuse for some older people in Australia.
"Elder abuse is a human rights scourge that has no place in our community," said Dr Patterson.
"Social isolation is a driver of elder abuse - and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased social isolation for many older people. Financial pressures on adult children are a driver of financial elder abuse - and the economic fallout of COVID-19 has increased those too. This is a perfect storm."
"We all need to know the signs of elder abuse and understand that it can happen to any older person, regardless of their background or lifestyle. I hope this campaign helps more people to recognise the 'red flags' and know that they can do something about it. Together, we can all help end elder abuse."
Elder abuse can be financial, physical, psychological, emotional, sexual or neglect. It often takes place behind closed doors at home and, tragically, it is usually perpetrated by a family member or close contact of the older person.
You can watch the video on the Commission's website: www.humanrights.gov.au
If you experience, witness or suspect elder abuse, you can call the free, confidential National Elder Abuse phone line for information, support and referrals 1800ELDERHelp, 1800 353 374.