June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the Cartier Senior Citizens Support Committee is celebrating with a barbecue.
Resource co-ordinator Lin Smitzniuk said the event starts at 2 p.m. at the Vets Hall in Elie with afternoon games and a magic show at 4 p.m., followed by supper at 5:30 p.m. and dance music until 10 p.m. This is a fundraiser for the committee.
Tickets for the dinner are $10 for adults and $5 for children age five to 12, with children under five free. There will also be a 50/50 draw and rainbow auction. Tickets are available by calling 204-353-2470.
Some of the barbecue attendees might wear purple in recognition of WEAAD, which is being celebrated that day across Manitoba, Canada and around the world.
In the past 10 years, Manitoba has made good progress in increasing awareness of elder abuse and providing support for those experiencing abuse, said Jim Rondeau, provincial minister of healthy living, seniors and consumer affairs.
"I think that we excel more than any other province," he said.
The provincial government works with community organizations to deliver programs on preventing elder abuse, and pays for the seniors abuse support line at 1-888-896-7183. The line is staffed around the clock, seven days a week by trained counsellors. They can advise older people who are being abused financially, emotionally, physically or sexually, or who are experiencing neglect. As well, they are also an information resource for anyone who suspects that someone they know is being abused.
Provincial elder abuse consultant Susan Crichton said, while much progress has been made, national research shows that only one in five elder abuse cases are reported.
"It’s still under-reported," she said. Elder abuse is a crime, just like child abuse, and should be reported to police.
In some cases, the abuser is a family member and the person being abused might be afraid to make a report. Crichton said that physical and social isolation in rural areas may prevent someone from seeking help.
She urges rural residents to keep an eye on older neighbours.
"Sometimes it’s finding an opportunity to have a conversation."
Age & Opportunity Inc. runs a safe suite program for women, men and couples who need to leave their homes to escape abuse. Staff provides help with finding housing and financial assistance.
Rondeau hopes that Manitobans make an effort to recognize WEAAD on June 15 and help raise awareness.