(top) Rennae Purcell speaking about elderly abuse and prevention. (below) VSL students intently watching “Within My Walls” DVD (top) Rennae Purcell speaking about elderly abuse and prevention. (below) VSL students intently watching “Within My Walls” DVD


On May 16 the Victorian School of Languages (VSL) students warmly welcomed Ms Rennae Purcell, a youth volunteer from the Australian Filipino Community Services (AFCS). Ms Purcell, a first-year out university graduate spoke about one of the most important and relevant topics these days, the promotion of respect for the elderly and the prevention of elderly abuse.
With a well-prepared and informative Powerpoint presentation after attending a seminar sponsored by the Ethnics Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) Ms Purcell pointed out that there are 68,000 over 55-year olds from Filipino background in Victoria, and that 2 to 5% (about 380) of older people over 65 years of age experience abuse. This is an alarming number!
Seniors Rights Victoria described elderly abuse “as the mistreatment of an older person that is committed by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust such as a partner, family member, friend or carer”.
Ms. Purcell delicately explained to the VSL students that the abuse maybe physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can also come in the form of neglect and mistreatment. She reiterated that no older person should experience any of these if we are to show them respect.
For instance, “psychological and emotional abuse is the infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation or other verbal or non-verbal conflict”. On the other hand, mistreatment involves “the denial of a person’s rights to live safely and independently”. (SRV).
The presentation was indeed an eye opener for the students whose ethnic and religious background certainly put a strong emphasis on respecting and caring for their parents and grandparents. The students also seemed particularly shocked to see some real-life examples shown by Ms Purcell through the DVD “Within My Walls”.
These scenarios were taken from at least four different ethnic backgrounds. One elderly Filipina was portrayed as being chologically abused in the form of verbal assaults and humiliation by her husband as she was constantly told off about sending money to her family in the Philippines. Another couple from a European background was also abused by being financially taken advantage of by their son perhaps because they are illiterate or simply too old to manage their financial affairs.
Ms Purcell in finishing the presentation also emphasized the importance of the role of Seniors Rights Victoria in seeking to prevent elder abuse in the community through their free legal advice and information (with a range of educational and advocacy activities) in order to protect the rights, dignity and freedom of the elderly.
Prevention strategies for our seniors include planning for the future, remaining active and staying connected, being and feeling safe, staying independent while talking to others if there are any concerns.
This presentation has been another demonstration of a collaborative partnership between the AFCS and the VSL to continue to educate our Filipino children on the importance of preserving the values of caring and respect for our elderly rooted in our deep religious faith of love and obedience.

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