The term “vulnerable people” refers to people who are unable to take care of themselves or unable to protect themselves from significant harm and exploitation due mainly to physical frailty, disability, cognitive impairment, illness or mental health issues.
These are the people most likely to be abused.
The NSW Interagency Policy 2014 defines abuse as “a violation of an individual’s human rights by another person or persons.”
Abuse may take place anywhere: in a person’s home, at supported accommodation, in a day centre, in hospital or a clinic, or in a residential care facility.
Abuse comes in different forms and may be multiple. NSW Interagency Policy 2014 notes the following:
• Psychological or emotional abuse covers mental stress deriving from action and/or threats, such as: isolation, fear, deprivation, shame and powerlessness.
• Financial abuse covers the illegal or improper use of property or finances.
• Undue influence occurs where the person feels vulnerable or dependent upon another person who threatens to withdraw essential support or harm them (or another person) if they do not comply.
• Neglect or acts of omission occur when the carer or person responsible fails to provide (or allow another person to provide) the necessities of life such as adequate food, shelter, clothing or health needs.
• Physical abuse involves the infliction of physical pain or injury, or physical coercion.
• Restraints and restricted practices include restraining or isolating a person other than for medical necessity.
• Sexual abuse involves a range of sexual acts where the person’s consent has not been obtained or where their consent has been obtained through coercion.
Victims of abuse need to know that the abuse is wrong and is never their fault.
Every person has the right to live an abuse-free life.
If you are a victim of abuse or would like to report abuse, please contact the National Disability Abuse & Neglect Hotline on 1800 880 052 or the Elder Abuse Hotline on 1800 628 221.
- For information go to www.interchangeau.org, or call 1300 112 334.