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South Australian government agency raising awareness of elder abuse in Aboriginal communities

Rachael Knowles -

The South Australian Office for Ageing Well is partnering with Aboriginal community representatives to raise awareness for the rights of Aboriginal Elders.

Launching the Stop Elder Abuse campaign on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, the office is aiming to connect with mob across South Australia and promote the significance of Aboriginal Elders, their role in community and their connection to and teaching of culture.

"What we are really after with the campaign is creating awareness around elder abuse, or elder treatment," said Office for Ageing Well Director, Cassie Mason.

"Connecting with older people in your community is a really valuable way to continue culture and that is really important, whatever community you are from, but particularly in Aboriginal communities."

The organisation completed research with the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Research Unit to identify recommendations for resources and strategies that focus on the rights and safety of Elders.

"Through that work what came out was that often Aboriginal communities don't really resonate with the idea of elder abuse. It is one of those issues that we need to approach in a different way," Mason said.

"We do know that some Aboriginal people do have distrust in government organisations. We do sit in the middle of a government organisation, so we had to think a bit differently as to how we connect with Aboriginal communities so we can get messaging across in a way that was culturally appropriate."

The Office of Ageing Well will partner with Aboriginal organisations to deliver an effective campaign.

"One size doesn't fit all, it's really important to engage and connect with different communities and to work through what messaging works for them. What [are] the important things and the barriers that may prevent different communities in engaging? And then working through, how do we target messaging to work for them?" Mason said.

"We have worked quite closely with the age-rights advocacy service who have linked us in with a variety of different people who have then been involved.

"We will co-design a campaign which will use artwork and messaging across social media, video, posters and other channels to target Aboriginal communities."

The campaign will feature Aboriginal Elders and advocates as ambassadors to spread the word through their communities over the next five years.

"We are really keen [to show] that this is not just a one-off, it is going to be a long running campaign and we will change it up as we go."

The organisation has also worked with Ngarrindjeri artist, Jordan Lovegrove, to create art for the campaign.

"He is a Ngarrindjeri man who works with Dreamtime Creative and he has designed the artwork which showcases the importance of Elders [as] the foundation of teaching Aboriginal culture which has been so great," said Mason.

The Office for Ageing Well has an established hotline to support those who have experiences or have been impacted by elder abuse.

The South Australian Elder Abuse Prevention phone line, reachable on 1800 372 310, provides callers with free confidential information, advice and referrals to appropriate services, including advocacy, mediation and legal support.

By Rachael Knowles

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