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Case study: Elder Abuse is not Okay

Elder Abuse - Campaign Banner

All older Tasmanians have the right to live in a safe environment, where they are valued members of society and treated with respect. Unfortunately, many older Tasmanians currently experience some form of abuse by people whom they trust with their care and wellbeing.  This is a significant issue for Tasmania as we have the fastest ageing population nationally. One in four of us will be 65 years or older by 2019.

The Tasmanian Government has targeted this issue by engaging the community in a whole-of-government elder abuse prevention response. The Government committed $2.6 million over four years towards the implementation of Protecting Older Tasmanians from Abuse: Tasmania’s Elder Abuse Prevention Strategy. A key aspect of the Strategy is raising community awareness about the types of abuse and its effects on elderly. In April 2011 Red Jelly were appointed to develop the Elder Abuse community awareness campaign.

The ‘Elder Abuse is Not Okay’ community awareness campaign was launched on 21 September 2012 and included a combination of print (posters, bookmarks, wallet cards and fridge magnets) and broadcast media. The campaign empowers older people by providing advice on how to best protect themselves from the possibility of abuse. It urges Tasmanians to contact the Elder Abuse Helpline to receive information and advice on dealing with a suspected elder abuse situation.

A dedicated Elder Abuse Helpline commenced on the 27 August 2012and provides Tasmanians with information and advice about actions that can be taken to address elder abuse situations.  The Helpline is operated by Advocacy Tasmania Inc. and is a state-wide service. The phone number is 1800 441 169. The campaign’s website contains information about Elder Abuse, the dedicated helpline, practitioner information and appropriate links to other sites.

What challenges did we face?

Prior to the commencement of the Elder Abuse Prevention Strategy no research had been undertaken to determine the extent and nature of the problem of elder abuse in Tasmania. Red Jelly was engaged in 2010 to undertake qualitative and quantitative research into the problem of elder abuse in Tasmania. A key part of this was identifying community perceptions about this type of abuse. The aim of this was to assist the Tasmanian Government to understand the extent of the issue and to inform a future community awareness raising campaign.

As part of the qualitative research, 53 one-on-one, in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with persons who had direct contact with elderly people as part of their job. This included volunteers and covered all of Tasmania’s geography. The qualitative research findings provided a ‘snapshot’ of elder abuse in Tasmania for the June - August 2011 period.

The quantitative research involved surveying a random sample of 600 households from all regions of Tasmania in June 2011.The aim of this research was to gather feedback from the community about their understanding of elder abuse in Tasmania. This included information on:

  • perceived issues faced by elderly people
  • perceived treatment of elderly people in Tasmania
  • respondents’ understanding of the term ‘elder abuse’
  • perceived prevalence and seriousness of elder abuse in Tasmania
  • who respondents felt were most likely to be perpetrators of elder abuse
  • views regarding the best ways to address the issue of elder abuse in Tasmania.

The research findings assisted the development of creative concepts for the community awareness campaign on elder abuse, and provided the first source of information on elder abuse in Tasmania.

What worked well?

The constructive feedback from callers to the helpline regarding the community awareness campaign was helpful. It was identified early on in the campaign that the helpline telephone number was not being displayed long enough on the television ad for people to write down. Red Jelly was contacted and they were able to adapt the television ad accordingly.

The Elder Abuse book marks were a real success with the elderly.  Like the wallet cards, these could be kept discreetly within a book or in a purse/wallet out of the perpetrators vision.  However, it was identified that the helpline number was too small for the elderly to read. The font size of the number was increased when the bookmarks were reprinted.

Things we would do differently next time

This project is funded until June 2014 at which time it will be evaluated. It was noticed that our Elder Abuse bookmarks and wallet cards had misused the Tasmanian Government logo and base wave. Although this was corrected at the re-print stage, we will engage feedback from DPAC when developing future collateral.

As identified by caller feedback to the helpline, the period of time that the telephone number was displayed on the television advertisement was not long enough to read and write down.  Currently there aren't any requirements in the Tasmanian Government Style Guide and Logo Policy in relation to the minimum length of time a phone number should be displayed during a television ad. Some guidelines around this might be useful in the future.