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Sexual assaults against older women ignored: report

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The study, which is the first of its kind and took three years to complete, is called Norma's Project. Norma was 84-years-old when she was sexually assaulted by a worker in an aged care facility.
Researchers from La Trobe University conducted 66 interviews with women who were abused, their family members, aged care service providers, police and sexual assault agencies.
Chief Investigator Dr Catherine Barrett from the University's Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, says sexual violence is an invisible crime that needs much greater public awareness and policy prevention.
"Many people think older women just aren't going to be targets of any kind of sexual assault. This is wrong. This report clearly shows older women are sexually assaulted and that the silence surrounding this crime makes older women vulnerable," she said.
"We want this research to be used to create prevention strategies and accountability measures to prevent sexual assault."
In Australia all approved providers of subsidised residential aged care are required to report to the police and to the Department of Health and Ageing incidents involving alleged or suspected reportable assaults. The report must be made within 24 hours of the allegation, or when the approved provider starts to suspect a reportable assault.
In the past 12 months there has been a 14 per cent increase in reports of alleged physical and sexual assaults: 349 reports of unlawful sexual contact and 29 reports of unlawful sexual contact and 'unreasonable force'.
Unfortunately due to lack of evidence, the inability to identify the perpetrator and patients suffering from a mental illness like dementia, often no charges are laid.
The report findings and recommendations of the study will be presented to government and the sector for direct action.

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