Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, a community organisation working towards prevention of elder abuse in the Kiwi-Indian community says that there is a considerable gap of understanding between senior citizens and their children that leads to the menace of elder abuse in the community.

“We organize elder abuse prevention programmes at different intervals of the year and also family fun days to interact with children or guardians of senior citizens so that we can have a dialogue and make them aware as to what constitutes to elder abuse- but very few turn up to such events,” Nilima Venkat, General Manager of Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, told The Indian Weekender.

Shanti Niwas on Monday, April 9, hosted an elder abuse prevention seminar in collaboration with the Age Concern, Counties Manukau. Elder Abuse prevention educator  Lynn Cicero conducted the session which was attended by 10-15 representatives from different Indian and South East Asian communities.

The concept behind the seminar was to outline some of the critical points as to what constitutes as elder abuse- emotional, physical, financial and mental- both perpetuated by oneself or any other member of the family.

The idea to involve the community leaders was to get their attention into the subject of elder abuse and relay the same message to the elders as well as the younger members of the families of their communities.

“The goal at the end of the seminar is to create and spread more awareness about elder abuse which is very prevalent in the community, and it is often unreported.

“Other gaps are that people do not report abuse due to cultural stigma, and sometimes there’s lack of resources to address the issue like funding, staffing etc.,” Ms Venkat added.

At the meeting, the community leaders expressed their concerns about how to convey the message forward to the elders, what can they do to prevent the same and easiest way to report any such incidents of abuse so that concerned authorities can mediate and help elders and their families.

During the meeting, Ms Venkat stressed on the fact that there is an acute problem of little to no contribution from the family members or children of the senior citizens when it comes to participating in awareness events or programmes for elder abuse prevention.

Shanti Niwas provides different programs for older people of the community with special needs in the wider Auckland region. The programs are designed to engage the seniors in doing activities that include Exercise, health and safety workshops, outings, movie shows, entertainment activities, English classes, and more. The seniors at different intervals of the year also venture out for outdoor picnics and even participate at various cultural events.