Ahead of the 2022 United Nations Global Campaign for 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children; The Association for the Aged (Tafta) launched a Toll-free National Elder Abuse Helpline on the 23 November 2022.
The Helpline provides a powerful space for older people who feel unsafe, afraid, disrespected and traumatized to express their concerns and reach out for help. Many have lived in silence with abuse as they lacked knowledge on how to report it or did not have the means to travel to service points, especially in rural areas. In addition, older persons are reluctant to report when the perpetrator is a loved one or someone they depend on. Tafta’s Helpline (0800 10 11 10) changes this as it amplifies the voice of victims of abuse by bringing the services to the door of the victim through a network of care partners.
Tafta’s Research and Development Strategist, Carmel Murugen said, “Through our referral process we work with a range of care partners. This includes the South African Police Services, health professionals, social work services and Departments of Social Development and Justice. At the centre of this collaboration is the older person and his or her need for safety, dignity and autonomy. By linking victims of elder abuse to the appropriate service providers, the Helpline ensures that victims of elder abuse receive the necessary care and support.”
With a problem as massive as elder abuse, collaboration with state and civil society organisations is critical to ensuring effective intervention and successful outcomes for older persons, particularly where resources are limited in deep rural communities. The Helpline counsellors have turned to community health workers in the villages to help identify prominent landmarks when they were unable to obtain clear geographical locations from the older person calling in.
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Strengths of the service
- The Helpline was accessed by older persons in deep rural areas of South Africa such as Madadeni in KZN, Kathlehong in Gauteng, Etshe Juba in Zululand and Polokwane in Limpopo.
Calls were received from provinces outside KZN, including Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape.
- Received call backs from some callers who indicated that social workers in local offices had visited and were providing services.
- Numerous elders calling in have received information about how to access SASSA grants, obtain legal assistance around property disputes, obtain counselling for family members with mental health issues and address relatives mismanagement of the older persons old age pension.
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Source: TAFTA, The Association for the Aged