Seniors in migrant communities can sadly be more vulnerable to elder abuse.

With Elder Abuse Awareness Week coming up on June 15-22, it is a timely reminder to ensure seniors in our communities are safe, secure, and free from any abuse – be it emotional, psychological, financial or physical.

Although social workers and community organisations working within the Kiwi-Indian community, in the field of elder abuse prevention and mitigation, believes that majority of members in the community look after their elderly quite well.

Yet elder abuse does happen and the community cannot afford to shy away from its responsibility to prevent and mitigate elder abuse as and when it happens.

Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust is one such organisation among others, which was formed in 1994 to deal with issues of senior citizens who were migrating to New Zealand.

Speaking to The Indian Weekender, Nilima Venkat, General Manager, Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust said a lot of elder abuse issues in our community emanates from living in the isolation in a new country with little support.

“When immigration was opened in those days, families brought their parents with them to NZ.

“However families were busy in settling down in a new country and solving issues like jobs, home, and education of their children. Thus parents faced much isolation.

“With isolation, come many problems like emotional and mental health issues,” Mrs Venkat said.

Shanti Niwas started then to address that need at that time, where several day programs were run to support seniors.

“Since then Shanti Niwas has grown into a big organisation where we run several services and provide professional services to our elderly,” Ms Venkat said.

Khushi – An elder abuse and neglect prevention service

Shanti Niwas has been running an elder abuse and neglect prevention service called Khushi since 2012.

Naveed Ahmed, a registered social worker who delivers the Khusi service for Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, told The Indian Weekender about different types of abuse that seniors in our community might experience.

“Generally there are four or five types of elder abuse – physical, emotional, psychological and financial.

“Fortunately we do not have to deal with a large number of physical abuse cases.

“Financial abuse is something we deal with a lot with seniors in our migrant community.

Speaking further about the delivery of Khushi service, Mr Ahmad said, “As a part of Khushi service, as soon as we receive a phone call about a tip or report of elder abuse, we try to make a home visit as soon as possible.”

“We check if there are any safety concerns. If any concerns then we educate the person about what to do and whom to contact and we provide them with all contact details.

“Fortunately we do not receive many calls related to physical abuse.

“In all other, no emergency calls we strive to work professionally by ensuring full confidentiality to our clients, and work with the families and other service providers and support agencies wherever possible,” Mr Ahmad said.

Emphasising further on the importance of working together with the families, wherever possible, Mrs Venkat said, “We understand that in our Indian community keeping families together is also a cherished goal, so we try to balance and be inclusive as much as possible.”

The Shanti Niwas Trust is organising an event Khushi Day to raise awareness in the community.

Date: Saturday 16th June 2018 

Venue: Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, 

Time:  11.00am – 2.00pm.

More details about the delivery of Khushi service by Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust is available at www.shantiniwas.org.nz or (09) 6221010.