In May 2017 the Victorian Government launched the ‘Free from violence strategy’ to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women. Although the strategy is primarily focused on violence against women, it acknowledges that elder abuse affects both older men and women, can be perpetrated by both men and women with whom the older person has formed a relationship of trust, such as a son, daughter, close friend or partner. It is through this strategy that Ballarat Community Health received funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for a project to coordinate a regional Elder Abuse Prevention Network.
The Central Highlands Elder Abuse Prevention Network (CHEAPN) aims to reduce the incidence of elder abuse in the Central Highlands region. It achieves this by further expanding the CHEAPN and supporting organisations and community groups in primary prevention activities to stop elder abuse before it starts, in line with the Victorian Government’s ‘Free from violence’ strategy. The network targets six local government areas in the Central Highlands and Grampians region (Ararat, Ballarat Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool and Pyrenees).
The project is supported by the peak body Seniors Rights Victoria, which provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people. Seniors Rights Victoria also provides leadership on policy and law reform and works with other organisations to raise awareness of elder abuse.