Health and Community Services
Executive Council

June 17, 2008

New Campaign Targets Violence Against Older Persons

A new awareness campaign by the Provincial Government sheds light on violence against older persons and encourages residents to take action to eliminate violence in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services and Minister Responsible for Aging and Seniors, unveiled the campaign today coinciding with Seniors Month in Newfoundland and Labrador and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which was recognized on Sunday, June 15.

"It is an unfortunate reality that violence against older persons does occur," said Minister Wiseman. "This campaign serves to increase the awareness of abuse against older adults and the various forms it takes. The responsibility is on all of us as a society to learn the signs of violence against older persons and act to stop it. Seniors deserve respect and we need to be especially mindful of those seniors who may be more vulnerable so that they can be cared for and supported in a manner that preserves their dignity and independence."

The campaign is a collaborative project through the Violence Prevention Initiative and the Provincial Healthy Aging Policy Framework. The campaign is supported by the Budget 2008 commitment to invest $800,000 over four years to develop, deliver and evaluate training for health authority staff and other service providers to help them prevent, recognize and intervene in the abuse and neglect of older adults.

"Violence against older persons is something that has not been openly discussed in our province," said the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and Lead Minister of the Violence Prevention Initiative. "But the reality is that older persons are experiencing physical, emotional and sexual violence, as well as financial abuse and neglect each day. The purpose of this campaign is to stop the silence by educating people about the different forms of violence that exist and encouraging everyone to take action and to reach out to support victims."

The campaign consists of print and radio ads as well as posters and a brochure showing the various forms of violence including physical violence, financial abuse and neglect. The ads compel the public to think about how they want older adults to be treated. The total cost of the campaign is approximately $100,000. This is the second of five marketing campaigns that will be developed over the next four years to change public attitudes about violence and the first of two campaigns to enhance support for seniors.

Violence comes in many forms. It includes physical, emotional, and sexual violence as well as neglect and financial abuse, and can occur in the context of intimate and non-intimate relationships. Canadian research indicates that between four and 10 per cent of older adults experience one or more forms of abuse or neglect at some point in their later years. Furthermore, Statistics Canada estimates that Newfoundland and Labrador will have the highest proportion of seniors in the country by 2026. These two key facts compound the need for increased prevention of violence against older adults.

The campaign also builds on the significant investments by the Provincial Government for initiatives which benefit seniors. These include expansions to the Seniors Benefit Program resulting in a 250 per cent budget increase since 2003 bringing the total investment to $26.8 million annually; the Budget 2008 announcement of $15 million for a Long Term Care and Community Supportive Services Strategy; and the introduction of the Healthy Aging Policy Framework.

Ad 1 | Ad 2 | Ad 3

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Media contacts:

Glenda Power
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-1741
Michelle Hynes-Dawson
Communications and Policy Analyst
Women’s Policy Office
709-729-6225, 693-2125  

2008 06 17                                                   1:30 p.m.

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