Older women make up the majority of those impacted on by elder abuse and domestic violence. They face discrimination based on age, gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality and disability, are vulnerable to poverty and homelessness and have difficulties accessing employment, health-care and aged care services. Older women are a marginalised majority. The OWN NSW has been working for 3 decades across the domestic violence and elder abuse sectors promoting the rights of older women, advocating for social inclusion, social justice and social change, as well as providing affordable and engaging programs, through OWN Wellness Centres, to enhance social connectedness and wellbeing. Our goal is to make domestic violence and elder abuse everybody’s business. This paper will examine some of OWN’s work: Older Women Speak Out (Mears, 2003), The Disappearing Age (OWN, 2009), It Could Be You; Female, Single, Older and Homeless (McFerron, 2010). It will conclude by examining the significant work being done by the OWN Wellness Centres in the prevention of violence against older women through enhancing health, well being and social connectedness.
Elder abuse and domestic violence have been viewed as dichotomous when in fact they are not mutually exclusive. However, this has contributed to fragmentation of services for older women who are victims of abuse. The intersectionality of gender, age, race and culture has contributed to this fragmentation. A framework for understanding older women and neglect, abuse, and violence from an international human rights perspective, based on the work of the United Nations (UN), partnering Non-Government Organizations, and an international panel of academic researchers, can be used to address normative gaps in law and strengthen practice, policy and program development at the national level. Examples from the 2013 report of the UN Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Older Women and Neglect, Abuse and Violence, as well as an on-line curriculum on polyvictimization in later life, developed by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, will be presented and discussed.