Older People: The Invisible Victims of Domestic Abuse
Monday 27th November 2017

                                   

On Monday 27th November 2017, AEA Northern Ireland hosted their second national conference which this year was delivered in partnership with Women’s Aid Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABCLN). 

The conference was a huge success with a full house of almost 150 delegates from organisations across the statutory, community, voluntary, independent and faith sectors.  Delegate feedback gave the conference 100% satisfaction rating with 80% rating it as excellent and 20% rating it as good.

Following a welcome from AEA Northern Ireland Director Veronica Gray and Rosemary Magill, CEO of Women's Aid ABLCN, we heard from Independent MLA Claire Sugden who asked if the Northern Ireland executive is doing enough to support victims and deter those who abuse older people.  Steven Mc Court from the Department of Justice outlined the progress and ambitious new plans to tackle domestic abuse in Northern Ireland, while acknowledging that progress needs a Minister.

                         

Don Hennessy delivered the first of his two key note presentations by exploring how domestic abuse in older age happens and how victims are treated.  Don's input was certainly a highlight of the event with 73% of delegates rating his input as the most useful part of the day. 

Following presentations from the Health and Social Care Board, PSNI and Northern Ireland Housing Executive, delegates had the opportunity to engage in a Question and Answer session with the panel members. 

        

After lunch the Ulster Orchestra opened proceedings with the live performance of "My Story...Grown Old" which uses music, song and poetry to illustrate the story of an elderly woman looking back at a life of abuse and forward to her remaining years.  This proved another highlight as 78% of delegates rated the performance as the most useful aspect of the event.  The performance ended with a standing ovation from delegates.

       

Ending the day we heard once more from our key note speaker Don Hennessy who explored the avenues of support for victims but challenged us all to consider "Are we doing the right things?"

Our thanks to Marie-Louise Connolly, BBC NI who acted as our conference Chair, to each of our speakers and presenters, and to all those who supported the conference. As these delegate feedback quotes demonstrate, it was a truly inspiring day:

“Very useful day with great speakers”

“Very informative especially the view to change how we approach domestic violence”

“Powerful performance by ALL involved”

“Very, very interesting and informative day.  Don Hennessy has a message that many others need to hear”

“Well organised, timed very well”

“I am overwhelmed by the compassion shown today also the innovative ideas are inclusive”

“One of the most thought provoking conferences I have attended”