Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS) launched

Elder abuse is a serious and growing problem in all our communities throughout New Zealand. The Government has launched a new service to directly address this disturbing issue. Given New Zealand’s ageing population, we need a fresh approach and effective and accessible help wherever and whenever victims need it.

This week’s sentencing of an Auckland woman for stealing her aged father’s life savings reinforces the urgent need to intervene and provide practical services that will keep older people safe from abuse.

WW2 veteran Ron Greenhalgh died last year without enough money to pay for his funeral because it was squandered at the TAB by his daughter Carolyn Diane Alleyne. Branded "cold, callous, heartless and cruel" by her brother, Alleyne is now serving 10 months’ home detention following her conviction for theft by a person in a special relationship.

Ena Lai Dung had 15 broken bones and weighed just 29kg when ambulance officers found her body – her daughter was jailed for 13 years for manslaughter. Joanne Quinn let her mother deteriorate to an extent that horrified medical staff and was jailed for two and a half years.

From July 1 the new Elder Abuse Response Service (EARS) will put the victims of elder abuse first. The cornerstone of EARS is a free and confidential 24/7 helpline, 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK). Registered nurses will be on the other end of the phone to listen and advise anyone who needs information or support about elder abuse – whether they are the victim or someone who’s concerned it might be happening to a friend or family member. Callers will then be referred to local elder abuse services to get the help they need.

WThe Government has increased funding for these services and has negotiated new contracts with organisations that have been selected specifically based on their ability to deliver an effective intervention service for vulnerable older people. In addition to longstanding providers like Age Concern, which nationally receives a $300,000 funding increase, 18 new organisations will be involved including 10 age concern branches who will be receiving new funding for the first time. There will be a wider geographical spread of service providers to help more at-risk elderly people than ever before.

From the beginning of July, nationwide education and awareness work will be run through the Office for Seniors, freeing up frontline providers to actively help older people facing different abuse situations.

With translation services available to the free 24/7helpline, and providers selected to ensure services are culturally responsive, the new service will be able to respond to the social, economic, political and spiritual values of our different cultures and ethnic groups, including Maori, Pasifika, Indian, Chinese and Korean communities.

MSD’s SuperSeniors Champions are adding their voices to help spread the word and encourage people to speak out and ask for advice and help about elder abuse. They are a group of influential, articulate advocates for positive ageing. These non-political honorary role models, led by Patron Sir Peter Snell, have made a series of videos which will be on the SuperSeniors website.

Older New Zealanders should be able to trust their families and those close to them but the sad reality is that 79% of those who report elder abuse are harmed by family members and 43% of victims live with their abuser; 59% of seniors are disabled in some way and they, along with the wider disability community, are more vulnerable to abuse.

Elder abuse has devastating effects and our seniors must be able to get help if they need it, confidentially and safely. Up to 70,000 seniors will experience some form of elder abuse this year – physical, psychological, sexual, financial or neglect – but the problem is largely hidden with most cases not reported because of the stigma and many victims are too ashamed to admit they are being abused. That needs to change.

All seniors deserve to be treated with respect, with dignity and with care, whatever their background or circumstances and we each have a responsibility to protect our vulnerable older New Zealanders.

SuperSeniors champions are:

  • Sir Peter Snell, Patron, PhD, KNZM, OBE

  • Dame Kate Harcourt DCNZ

  • Dame Malvina Major ONZ, GNZM, DBE

  • Dr Hon Sir Pita Sharples KNZM, CBE

  • Precious McKenzie MBE

  • Peter Chin, CNZM

  • Seung-jae Yu QSM

  • Nanette Nathoo QSM

  • Donald and Jennie Sew Hoy QSM

  • Lance Girling-Butcher QSM

  • Sir John Trimmer KNZM, MBE

  • Peter Hayden MNZM

  • Hon Margaret Austin CNZM

Details of the selected EARS providers:


  • Kaitaia & District Age Concern

  • Age Concern Mid-North (based in Kerikeri)



  • Auckland Elder Abuse Response Service Consortium

  • Age Concern Auckland

  • Age Concern North Shore

  • Age Concern Counties Manukau

  • Vaka Tautua

  • Shanti Niwas


Waikato and Coromandel

  • Age Concern Midland consortium

  • Age Concern Hamilton

  • Age Concern Thames

  • Age Concern Rotorua

  • K’atue Pasifika Trust

  • Otorohanga Support House Whare Awhina


Bay of Plenty and Taupo

  • Taupo and Whakatane - Manaaki Ora Trust, Tipu Ora

  • Rotorua – Family Focus Rotorua

  • Tauranga – Whaioranga Trust

  • Opotiki – Te Pou Oranga O Whakatohea

  • Kawerau and Edgecumbe – Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau Health, Education and Social Services


Gisborne/East Cape

Service still under negotiation – will be covered by local Age Concern until in place. MSD are working with them and other providers on a long-term solution.


Hawkes Bay

  • Age Concern Hawke’s Bay and Wairoa consortium

  • Age Concern Hawke’s Bay

  • Age Concern Wairoa


Wanganui, Manawatu, Taranaki and Tararua

  • Wanganui, Manawatu and Taranaki – Age Concern Consortium (Age Concern branches in Manawatu, Taranaki and Wanganui)

  • Tararua – Currently under negotiation - MSD are working with local organisations on a long-term solution


Wellington, Kapiti and Horowhenua

  • Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti and Hutt Valley – Wesley Mission

  • Wairarapa and Horowhenua – Age Concern Wellington Consortium (including Wairarapa and Horowhenua)


South Island

All services provided by Age Concern branches.


Christchurch, Canterbury and the West Coast - Age Concern Canterbury, West Coast

Southland – Age Concern Southland, Invercargill, Queenstown

Otago – Age Concern Otago, Central Otago

Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough – Age Concern Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough

Addressing the immediate needs of older people experiencing, or at risk of, elder abuse and neglect

© 2017 Manaaki Ora Trust t/a Tipu Ora

Free phone 0800 348 2400
  • w-facebook

Monday -  Friday     8:30 am - 5:00 pm