THE recruitment of new police officers in the Central West who will be tasked with protecting children and the elderly has been welcomed by the region’s support groups.
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Each police command across NSW will receive a child protection officer and elder abuse prevention officer, with the new positions to be fulfilled within four years.
Minister for Police and Dubbo MP Troy Grant announced the new positions earlier this week and said they would help protect some of the most vulnerable people in the community.
“[This will] ensure police have greater capability to keep a watchful eye on known offenders against children, and ensure our elderly are better protected from abuse,” he said.
Lifeline Central West chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson praised the government for its “proactive” approach to a significant issue in the region.
“It’s very sad that we need to have a police officer in these roles in addition to what we already have,” she said.
Ms Robinson said abuse of the elderly was far more widespread than many people might imagine and it was not just physical abuse that occurs.
It can also be an abuse of power or rights, mental, financial, theft of medications and the subsequent use or on-sale, or coercing an elderly person to sign legal documents.
“It’s a really, really big problem,” Ms Robinson said.
She said an increased focus on child protection was also desperately needed.
“Children are so vulnerable and they don’t have a voice,” she said.
Interrelate business development manager Anne Heath said in her line of work she sees first-hand how many people are impacted by child protection and elderly abuse issues.
“People would be surprised at the prevalence of it, we like to think that elderly people are well regarded and looked after,” she said.
“If we think about the correlation between the abuse of elderly people and the use of drugs and alcohol in our community, then any additional resources are a benefit.”
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