Personal Safety Handbook

PART 1 – General

1.1   Emergency Numbers

Emergency – Triple Zero (000)

(Some telephone service providers use an alternative number; you should check with your company).

Ambulance / Police / Fire Brigade

When you call 000 you will be connected to an operator who will ask you which service you require — AMBULANCE or POLICE or FIRE BRIGADE. The operator of that service for will then ask you:

  • Your street name
  • Your house number/location
  • The State from where you are calling
  • A description of what has happened
  • Your name
  • Your phone number, and
  • Any other relevant details such as the nature of the problem and the number of people involved.

Phone

If you own a phone that can store numbers, you may need to key in emergency numbers. These numbers may include those of family, close friends, neighbours, your local doctor, chemist, plumber or electrician.

If unsure, your telephone service provider will be able to provide instructions to assist.

1.2   Foreword

Feeling safe and secure in our homes and in the wider community can positively influence how we live our lives. Remaining independent and actively participating in community life becomes increasingly more important with age.

The Tasmanian Government is committed to protecting the right of all Tasmanians to feel safe and has demonstrated this commitment through Tasmania Together 2020 and its support of safety initiatives.

In 2000, the first Safe and Secure Living booklet was published and has been widely recognised as a valuable safety resource for older people, as well as the general community.

This revised version of the booklet continues to offer simple, practical tips and strategies to improve personal and household safety. In addition to many of the original suggestions the booklet has attempted to address some contemporary issues; notably advances in technology have provided opportunities for crimes such as fraud and scams.

I encourage you to read Safe and Secure Living and introduce some of the practical precautions into your everyday life. Our individual actions can assist in decreasing crime in Tasmania, but more importantly feeling safe and less vulnerable will enable us all to lead more independent and enjoyable lives.

Minister for Police and Emergency Management

1.3   How to use this Booklet

Read the information

Read one section of the booklet at a time. Don’t try to read the whole booklet in one session. You can select any section to work on; you don’t have to start at the front. Holiday security for example, may not be of interest until you are actually planning to go away for a holiday. You don’t have to act on every recommendation, only those appropriate for you.

We are less likely to be victims of crime if we take precautions. This booklet provides a number of important precautions for your reference. It also provides checklists, for you, friends or relatives to tick off when action has been taken to modify a deficiency in your security measures.

To help make a decision about action appropriate for you, you could give each item a priority rating according to:

  • Whether you think it is essential or appropriate that action be taken, and
  • Whether you think you can afford the financial cost of taking action. In some cases, there are landlords, organisations and community groups who may provide assistance.
  • Actions needed may be rated 1, 2 or 3 depending on need or urgency. The most important issues could be rated as 1 with the least important as 3. If you identify items requiring immediate action but you can’t afford it, you might:
    • plan to save to have future action take, and
    • seek family support – e.g. make suggestions for birthdays or Christmas gifts.

PART 2 – Home Security

Research has shown that a good-quality alarm system is the most effective form of home security. However, it is not always necessary to spend large amounts of money on security. Simple changes to make your house look occupied can be an effective deterrent to would-be intruders. By conducting a check of the security of your home and possessions, you will be able to develop a plan to make improvements

2.1   Doors and Windows

  • Sturdy entrance doors together with quality security doors provide a good first line of defence. Key operated door and window locks, keyed alike are great safety and convenience items. Deadlocks that need to be opened with a key from both loss of your valuable items whilst you are not at home. Remember, at home it is unwise to deadlock yourself in. If you do not like leaving deadlocks unlocked an alternative strategy is to leave keys in any deadlock or on a hook (preferably attached to a chain) close to the door or window, but out of reach of intruders to enable a speedy exit if necessary.
  • A security chain fastened to the door will also help you to check first before letting anyone in; keep security doors locked at all times.
  • Fit a double-sided locking handle and patio door bolts to all sliding doors. A snug fitting block of wood placed in the lower rack of the sliding door can also make it more difficult for intruders to slide the door open far enough to gain entry. Self-tapping screws in the top frame will also prevent sliding doors and windows being lifted out — make sure there is still enough clearance for the door or window to slide. Another alternative is to fit sliding window locks.
  • A peephole in all external doors and a light outside allows you to see who is there.
  • If possible, replace louvre windows as these often provide easy access for intruders; alternatively, consider installing aluminium or steel securitygrilles over these types of windows; if you like to leave windows open, again, solidly constructed grilles are an effective deterrent for intruders.

2.2   External Security

  • Your home should be clearly visible from the street with house numbers easily identifiable. House numbers painted on the kerb will help emergency services find you quickly. Clearing away excess trees, bushes and other vegetation provides an unobstructed view of unwanted intruders by your friends and neighbours.
  • Never hide keys outside. Do not give keys to people you don’t know (including tradespeople).
  • Ensure that doorway and perimeter lighting is sufficient to illuminate surroundings. Consider installing sensor lights. These will not only activate when you arrive home at night, but will also deter prowlers.
  • Consider keeping a dog. This is also a good idea for health and companionship reasons as well as security.
  • Ensure car doors are locked whenever the car is not in use, even at home.
  • Consider securing your electricity supply meter box with an approved lock.
  • Keep ladders and tools locked away in a garage, garden shed or under the house.
  • Garden sheds and gates should be kept locked.
  • Letter boxes should be big enough to meet your mail needs. Keep it locked and emptied by a trusted friend or neighbour when you are away.

2.3   Internal Security

  • Access to your home can be gained through the roof, so attach hinges and a sliding bolt to the manhole if you are concerned.
  • If watching TV, in the back yard or working with the vacuum cleaner or other noisy tools/equipment, keep external doors locked.

2.4   Other Tips

  • When you purchase new electrical goods avoid leaving the empty packaging (unless crushed and tied) with your rubbish as this could alert potential burglars to your new acquisitions.
  • Don’t keep large amounts of cash in your house unless it is in a good quality safe. Consider using a safety deposit box at a bank for the storage of especially valuable items.
  • Get to know your neighbours to enable a mutual spirit of assistance. Neighbours are the extra eyes observing events in a community which ultimately reduces crime when reported to police.
  • See if there is a Neighbourhood Watch or Bush Watch group in your area and consider joining.

2.5   Property Inventory

  • Use the property inventory recording sheet provided in the central pages of this booklet to compile a detailed inventory of all your property. Record the serial numbers, makes, models, colour, size and date of purchase of your property. Keep the inventory in a safe place such as a safe deposit box and make sure you update it when new items of property are obtained. In the unlikely event that you may lose your property you will need the list to give details to police or your insurance company.
  • Alternatively, if you have items of value or collections of any kind, such as stamps, medals, paintings it would be advisable to seek the services of a home inventory service to prepare a professional inventory.

2.6 Property Marking

  • Marking your property clearly identifies you as the owner of the property and deters burglars because they will find it more difficult to dispose of the goods. Having your property marked will also assist police to return it to you if it is stolen and subsequently recovered.
  • Mark all of the items included on your inventory using engravers, data dots, and UV blue light pens or similar. Some of these items are available on loan from your nearest Neighbourhood Watch group.
  • Not all items are suitable for engraving or marking. These items should be photographed or videotaped, with a ruler or matchbox beside them to assist in determining size. Items such as jewellery, watches, silverware, collectables, stamp and coin collections, furs, antiques, paintings and furniture come into this category.
  • Mark your property with your driver licence number, preceded by the letter ‘T’ (for Tasmania). This will enable your property to be traced, even in another state. If you don’t have a driver licence, use the driver licence number of a relative or close friend.
  • Alternatively, mark your property with a code comprising your initials, date of birth, and the letter ‘T’ (for Tasmania). For example: John Richard Smith. Date of birth: 01/02/65. His personal code is JRSO1O265T.
  • If you have any of your marked property stolen, make sure that you tell Tasmania Police the code you have used.
  • Stickers are available from Neighbourhood Watch to indicate that your property has been marked for police identification. Display these stickers in a prominent position.

2.7   Home Security Assessment Checklist

Check the status of these at your home.

  • House number clearly visible from the street, even at night.
  • Doors and windows clearly visible from the street.
  • Automatic light timers installed internally.
  • Sensor-activated lights installed externally.
  • All darkened areas around the house able to be illuminated.
  • Lights left on when you go out.
  • All external doors solid core.
  • Quality security doors installed at all external entrances.
  • All external doors fitted with deadlocks.
  • All windows fitted with locks.
  • Door and window locks keyed alike.
  • Front entrance door fitted with wide-angle viewer or peep hole and safety chain.
  • Keys not hidden outside.
  • Sliding doors and windows unable to be lifted off their tracks.
  • Louvre windows fitted with bars or grilles.
  • Property engraved and valuable property photographed.
  • Property inventory list compiled and kept in a secure place,preferably away from the home.
  • Meter box locked.
  • All gates secured.
  • Boundary fences in good repair.
  • Garage/garden shed locked when not in use.
  • Garden tools locked away when not in use.
  • Dog on duty.
  • Security alarm installed, used and serviced regularly(including battery change).
  • Ceiling access hole (manhole) fitted with hinges and sliding pad bolt.
  • Flue or chimney swept each year.

PART 3 – Holiday Security

3.1   Actions to be taken

A house left empty for some time is a prime target for intruders because the chances are they will not be disturbed and any offence will go undetected for days, perhaps weeks.

When you go on holiday it is important that you do not leave behind any clues that will tempt an intruder.

By taking the following actions you will reduce the chance of your house being broken into while you are away.

3.2   Holiday Security Checklist

Check the status of these at your home.

  • Doors, windows, garden shed and garage locked.
  • Milk and paper deliveries cancelled.
  • Arrangement made for mail/junk mail collection or redirection.
  • Arrangement made for lawn to be mowed and plants to be watered.
  • Arrangement made for wheelie bin to be brought in.
  • No messages left on answering machine or notes on doors.
  • Volume on telephone turned down so potential intruders can’t hear it ringing.
  • Contact name and number left with trusted neighbour.
  • Contact name and number left with local police.
  • Automatic timer set to turn on lights/TV/radio.
  • Garden tools, ladder, wheelie bin locked away.
  • Inexpensive laundry items left on the clothesline.
  • Key left with a trusted neighbour and not concealed outside the house.
  • Arrangement made for blinds to be re-arranged occasionally.
  • Arrangement made for a trusted friend to ‘house sit’.
  • Small valuables locked away securely.
  • Electricity supply to electronic garage doors disconnected.
  • Arrangement made for a neighbour to park their car in the driveway.

PART 4 – Personal Safety at Home

4.1   General Strategies

  • Be careful who you let into your home.
  • Install a peep hole, a door chain or good-quality, well-fitted security door.
  • Always check the credentials of any callers.
  • Talk to all callers through a locked security door.
  • Good lighting at entrances is necessary for night-time identification.
  • If you live alone, don’t advertise the fact. Use only your surname on flat or unit directories; initial and surname in telephone directory; don’t give any of your contact details to unknown callers at the door or by phone.
  • Keep, police, ambulance, relatives’ and your doctor’s telephone numbers written in large type next to your phones.
  • If you own a touch phone, key in your emergency phone numbers.
  • If possible have a phone extension in your bedroom.
  • Have regular contact with someone you trust.
  • If you suspect an intruder is inside, DO NOT ENTER THE HOUSE; go to a neighbour’s house and call the police (000).
  • If you find an intruder on your property.
  • Activate the security systems / burglar alarm.
  • Get to the nearest phone (perhaps in the bedroom) and call the police.
  • Some security systems have a hand held ‘panic’ device to set off the alarm.
  • Try yelling “Fire!” to deter the intruder and attract someone’s attention.
  • Install a large format phone if you have visual problems.

4.2   Safety inside the home

If you have any concerns about safety in and outside your home, contact:

  • Your local Community Health Centre and/or GP for a referral to an occupational therapist who can visit your home and give advice. Check the local telephone directory for contact numbers.
  • The Independent Living Centre, 46 Canning Street, Launceston
    Telephone 1300 651 166, or
    website www.ilctas.asn.au.
  • The Master Builders Association for their Home Modification Booklet
    Telephone (03) 6234 3810, or
    website www.mbatas.org.au.

Electrical/Lighting

  • Ensure sufficient lighting is available.
  • Ensure light switches are easy to reach and near doorways.
  • Keep a torch readily available.
  • Have power points placed where they are easy to reach.
  • Use a power board rather than a double adaptor.
  • Avoid using extension cords.
  • Fit a device to keep your hot water system at a safe temperature.
  • Wear appropriate safety equipment if using power tools.

Bathroom

  • Use grab rails in the toilet and bathroom.
  • Use a slip-resistant rubber mat in the bath or in the shower.
  • Consider altering the shower access.
  • Consider swinging the bathroom and toilet doors outwards.

General

  • Position the telephone where it is easy to reach.
  • Attach non-slip adhesive strips to any steps.
  • Remove any loose mats particularly from polished floors.
  • Install smoke alarms in all bedrooms and between kitchen and bedrooms.
  • Ensure your stepladder is sturdy and in good condition.

4.3   Safety outside the home

  • Keep trees in front of windows well trimmed.
  • Make sure that steps, paths and entrances are lit well.
  • Ensure steps and pathways are clear and free of leaves; spray moss, fungi and lichen.
  • Mark the leading edge of outside steps.
  • Paint slippery paths with a non-slip paint or by roughing the concrete.
  • Install rounded hand rails, no more than 40mm in diameter, near steps and stairs:
    • Keep paths, paving and steps in good repair.
    • Keep garden tools and equipment safely stored when not in use.
    • Ensure landscaping materials such as gravel, river pebbles and woodchips are confined to garden beds.

4.4   Personal Safety Strategy Checklist

Check the status of these at your home.

  • Check the credentials of any callers; do not allow inside your home.
  • Direct callers wanting to use a telephone to the nearest public phone.
  • Use only surname and initial in phone book; surname on unit or flat.
  • Don’t provide personal information to unknown callers.
  • Hang up on nuisance calls.
  • Have emergency telephone numbers keyed into the telephone or large print list next to the telephone.
  • Have an extension telephone in the bedroom.
  • Have a strategy that informs neighbours / friends that you are OK.
  • Know what to do if an intruder is on the property or in the house.

4.5   Home Safety Checklist

Check the status of these at your home.

Electrical

  • Torch available for use in an emergency.
  • Torch batteries OK.
  • Sufficient lighting in all rooms and hallways.
  • Light switches easy to reach, (near doorways and at the top and bottom of stairs).
  • Smoke alarms in all bedrooms or between kitchen and sleeping accommodation.
  • Batteries changed regularly in the smoke alarms.
  • Clothes and other combustibles never left near heaters.
  • All electrical cords in good condition.
  • Power points easy to reach.
  • Tempering system installed to your hot water system.
  • Tower tools used correctly and safety equipment used.

Modifications

  • Hand rails on both sides of stairs (inside and outside).
  • Non-slip adhesive on steps with leading edge of step highlighted (inside and outside).
  • Ceramic floor tiles treated to provide a slip-resistant surface.
  • Slip-resistant rubber mat or strips used in bath and shower.
  • Grab rails installed in bath, shower and toilet.
  • Bath seat and hand-held shower hose available.
  • Bathroom and toilet doors swing outwards.
  • Privacy locks on bathroom and toilet doors open from the outside.
  • Telephone easy to reach and use with second phone installed in bedroom with emergency numbers keyed in.

Clean Up

  • Floors free of clutter.
  • Loose mats removed.
  • Frequently used items within easy reach.
  • Stepladder in good condition.

Outside

  • Safety equipment used when working with chemicals.
  • Garden tools and equipment safely stored when not in use.
  • Landscaping materials confined to garden beds.
  • Paths, paving and steps not slippery and in good repair.

4.6  Property Inventory

Create a checklist to record your valuables.  Your checklist should containing item description, brand, model, serial number, description, value, date purchased.

  • Television
  • VCR / DVD
  • Video Camera
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Musical Instruments
  • Binoculars
  • Telescopes
  • Stereo System
  • CD Player
  • Cassette Player
  • Walkman
  • Camera Equipment
  • Sporting Goods
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Power Tools
  • Garden Tools
  • Bicycles
  • iPod
  • Mobile Phone
  • Set Top Box

PART 5 – Personal Safety in the Community

Feeling confident and safe when you are out in the street, in a car or on public transport will help you to maintain mobility and actively participate in community life and recreational activities. This section covers a range of strategies that will help to make every outing enjoyable and safe. Trust your instincts and do what makes you feel safe.

5.1   Auto-Teller Machines (ATM)

  • Be aware of people around you. Stand where you have a good view of others and can observe if anyone is watching you make a transaction.
  • Never count your money in public – this presents an opportunity for a thief. If you are concerned about someone watching you, place your body in front of the machine to stop anyone watching as you enter your PIN (personal identification number).
  • Never let anyone see your PIN.
  • Never write your PIN number down; memorise it or if you must write it down; then disguise it (e.g. by mixing your PIN with a set of other numbers).
  • At night, choose a machine located under good lighting.

5.2   Driving Tips

  • If you are going somewhere unfamiliar, plan your route.
  • When possible, avoid travelling on isolated roads or in peak-hour traffic.
  • Maintain the condition of your car and get it serviced regularly. Ensure you have plenty of petrol and your fuel gauge is reliable. Regularly check that all tyres, including the spare, are properly inflated an know who to contact if your car breaks down. Advise someone of your estimated time of arrival and your destination and route particularly when going on long trips.
  • Ensure maximum visibility by:
    • keeping windows clean, clear and demisted,
    • wearing sunglasses in bright sunshine, and
    • having your eyes checked regularly.
  • Take a break every hour on long trips.
  • Park your car in well-lit areas and do not leave valuables inside; never leave mail or other documentation with your name and address visible in the vehicle.
  • Before you get in, check to make sure that no one is in your vehicle or loitering nearby.
  • At night, always try to park in well-lit public areas close to your destination.
  • If you ever become concerned when driving about the actions or behaviour of another driver you should contact police or drive to the nearest police station.
  • Fitting of vehicle immobilisers is a very effective way of protecting older vehicles (pre 1999). At times local councils have assisted with the cost of installing vehicle immobilisers. Contact your local council for further information.

5.3   Handbag Security

  • Regularly review the actual contents of handbags. Do not carry large amounts of cash or other valuables unless absolutely necessary. Handbags should be worn rather than “carried” for increased security.
  • Never leave your bag in a shopping trolley as it can easily be taken. Even a brief moment of distraction is enough for a thief to take an unattended bag. At the movies or a restaurant never leave your bag on a vacant seat next to you.
  • When walking, wear your handbag or carry so that it cannot be easily reached or snatched. Remember that an easy target it is more attractive to a thief. Carry your bag on the side furthest from the road and never let the strap hang loosely.
  • Consider maintaining a low credit card limit to avoid a large theft if your card is lost or stolen.
  • Over the shoulder style handbags can be worn over the head with the purse to one side of the front of you.
  • Always keep a separate record of information contained within your bag such as a driver’s licence, credit card numbers, passport and Medicare card.
  • Never leave your bag unattended in a public place.
  • If you are confronted by someone who is trying to take your bag, GIVE THE BAG TO HIM OR HER. This will undoubtedly go against all your instincts, but remember that no amount of money or inconvenience is worth personal injury. At the same time, take note of the appearance of the person and, if a vehicle is involved, take note of its registration number, make and colour and CALL THE POLICE on 000.

5.4   Out and About

Before Leaving Home:

  • Plan your outing – to avoid busy traffic times if possible, and to prevent long waits at bus stops.
  • Take time to lock up carefully.

When Out:

  • Always carry your mobile phone or change for a phone call or a phone card.
  • Always carry some form of identification.
  • Never carry a wallet in a back pocket, especially in crowded places.
  • Carry only the money you need and pay large bills by cheque or by phone using a credit card.
  • Never leave valuables unattended.

When Walking:

  • At night use busy, well lit streets. If it is necessary to use poorly lit streets, walk as far from doorways as possible. Walk facing the flow of traffic.
  • Avoid short cuts through parks or vacant lots, especially at night.
  • Be cautious of people asking directions. Do not carry on a conversation with them.
  • Cross roads at safe spots, such as pedestrian crossings and traffic lights.
  • If it is necessary to cross at other places:
    • ensure you have enough time to cross the road
    • wait on the median strip if you are unable to cross the whole road in one attempt
    • look carefully in all directions for vehicles before and as you cross the road, and
    • do not assume that a driver has seen you.
  • If you think you are being followed, or feel at all threatened:
    • cross the street
    • try to get the attention of people nearby – shout as loudly as you can (‘Help!’, ‘Fire!’)
    • seek help at the nearest house, business, or busy public place, and
    • approach a Safety House or business. Make sure you know where they are located in your area.

5.5   Public Transport

Public transport is generally very safe. A few tips include:

  • Be aware of bus timetables to reduce waiting times.
  • When waiting at a bus stop, stand with other people, if possible in well lit areas whenever possible.
  • If the bus is empty, or nearly empty, sit close to the driver.
  • If you feel concerned about alighting from the bus, alert the driver.
  • If you use taxis, remember that you are entitled to sit where you feel comfortable, in either the back or front seat of the vehicle.
  • The taxi driver is obliged to take you via the shortest route to your destination unless you advise or specify otherwise.

5.6   Telephone Safety

Public telephones:

  • Position yourself so that you can easily see people approaching the phone box
  • Once you have dialled your number, turn around to ensure you are aware of anyone approaching. This prevents any element of surprise.

Home telephone:

  • Be very cautious of giving any personal information.

Mobile telephone:

  • Always keep your mobile telephone out of sight when it is not in use
  • Make sure that your personal identification number (PIN) is activated
  • Activate the phone’s security code number
  • Notify your service provider immediately if your phone is stolen or lost.

5.7   Safety Away from Home

Strategy Checklist

  • Sit near the bus driver.
  • When returning home in a taxi, have the driver wait until you are safely inside.
  • Avoid driving on isolated roads or in peak hour traffic.
  • Plan outings.
  • Lock premises.
  • When walking, avoid short-cuts.
  • When walking, cross roads at safe places. If you are followed or confronted when walking, have a strategy for action.
  • When walking, carry change for a phone call (or carry a phone card or a mobile phone).
  • When walking, carry some form of identification.
  • Know the location of Safety Houses in your local area.
  • When shopping, have an appropriate strategy for keeping handbag or wallet secure.
  • Use electronic banking facilities.
  • Check your surroundings when using an ATM.
  • Know the bus timetable.
  • Stand with other people at the bus stop.
  • Keep your car in good condition.
  • Park your car in well-lit areas.
  • Don’t leave valuables in a parked car.
  • Check to make sure no one is in the car before getting in.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • Take a break every hour on long trips.
  • Carry a personal security device.
  • Be aware of safety near public phones.

PART 6 – General Information

6.1   Collections for Charities

In Tasmania, laws apply to any person who solicits money for a charitable purpose from the public:

  • Collectors must wear identity cards showing their name, their organisation and the location of the principal office
  • Collectors can telephone residential numbers to collect donations only between 9am and 8pm
  • Children under the age of 15 years must be under the immediate control and/or supervision of an adult. Further detail is available from Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading on 1300 654 499.

6.2   Direct Selling

The direct selling of goods is governed in Tasmania by the Door-to-Door Trading Act 1986:

  • If goods or services are purchased from a door-to-door salesperson legislation provides a cooling-off period which allows ten days for a person to consider the purchase. The goods or services sold must be of the value of $50 or more
  • NEVER provide details of credit cards or other financial information to unknown callers.

The Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading provide a checklist for door-to-door sales. To ensure the salesperson has complied with the legislation you should consider carefully the points listed on the following:

Checklist

Did the salesperson:

  • introduce themselves by name?
  • give the name of the business?
  • tell you what they are selling?
  • tell you how to cancel the contract?
  • inform you that work cannot begin or money change hands before the cooling-off period has expired?
  • give you a chance to decide for yourself?
  • help you and not use any pressure to encourage you to sign the contract?

If the answer to any question is no, it is important that you contact Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading on their Consumer Advice Line 1300 654 499.

Further information on this subject and many others, is available from Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading on their
website: www.consumer.tas.gov.au

6.3   Driver Education

Driving is important to all of us and important to independence and lifestyle. It is important to keep up-to-date with current road rules and regulations and to be aware of driver responsibilities. If you have any health concerns see your doctor.

The Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER) produces road safety booklets on driver awareness and these publications are good sources of information to keep you up-to-date. They also provide presentations to seniors groups. The DIER web site is www.transport.tas.gov. au or by telephone on 1300 851 225.

The RACT is useful source of additional information. They prepare a number of pamphlets providing safety tips for motorists. Phone 132 722 or visit their web site: www.ract.com.au.

6.4   Family Violence (including Elder Abuse)

We all have the right to live in a safe environment. If you, or someone you know is experiencing some form of abuse or violence within the home or a care situation it is important that you inform the police, 131 444.

Elder abuse refers to abuse inflicted on older persons. The abuse may be physical, psychological, sexual, financial or material, or result from neglect. People known to the victim commit most assaults committed in Australia.

Information is available from the Family Violence Hotline, 1800 200 526.

Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline – 1800 441 169 – The Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline is a service operated on behalf of the Tasmanian Government by Advocacy Tasmania Inc.  The Helpline provides callers with information, advice and referral on actions they can take to prevent and respond to elder abuse in its many forms; emotional, physical, financial, social, sexual, and neglect. Its role is to assist older people, families, service providers and the wider community to better access existing supports and services.

Advocacy Tasmania – Advocacy Service – 1800 005 131 – provides a free statewide advocacy service to protect vulnerable people including older Tasmanians.

More information can be found on the Department of Health and Human Service’s website at http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/disability/projects/elder_abuse

6.5   Fire Safety

The Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) produce informative booklets including Fire Safety at Home and House Fire Prevent & Survive. These publications are available together with information on other programs mentioned below, by Freecall 1800 000 699.

TFS has a program called Project Wake Up. This program is aimed at improving fire safety within the homes of the elderly and people with a disability. This is achieved by providing a free home fire safety check and the installation of free smoke alarms when required.

It is also important to remember, smoke alarms, regardless of their type only have a life of ten years and must be replaced at the end of this period.

6.6   Identity Fraud

Identity fraud refers to a person creating a new identity or taking the identity of another person. Identity information can be obtained from documents such as driver licence, accounts (e.g. Aurora) and bank statements. These documents are then used to open bank or store accounts in your name or obtain items such as credit cards and even passports. This action may see expensive items purchased in your name with the cost charged to you.

You can take these steps to minimise the risk:

  • Don’t give out personal information on the telephone, through the mail or on the internet unless you’ve initiated the contact and you are sure who you are communicating with
  • Identity thieves are clever and will pose as representatives of banks or financial institutions and even government agencies
  • Ask about security measures in place at your workplace or business premises such as your doctor’s surgery. Find out who has access to your information
  • It is not uncommon for thieves to pick through your garbage or recycling bins to gain your personal information. All documentation that contains personal information should be shredded or at the least, torn up before careful disposal. Documents such as bank statements, credit card statements, insurance forms and credit applications and expired credit/ charge cards are likely targets
  • Carry only the cards that you need when you go out
  • Be very cautious when responding to promotions as these may be scams to gain your personal details
  • Always keep your personal documentation safe and never leave it where others may gain access
  • Be alert to scams circulating via the internet and telephone.

Take great care in disposing of rubbish. Consider shredding documents containing credit card numbers.

If you suspect that you have become a victim of identity fraud you should report the matter, first to police by phone 131 444 and then if necessary to the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) phone (02) 6246 2101.

A kit has been produced by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department to assist in the prevention of identity theft.

6.7   Medications

Keep an up-to-date list of medications including:

  • The name of each medicine,
  • Your daily dosage, and
  • Where you keep your medication.

A Medicines Line operates Monday to Friday between 9a and 6pm with advice or assistance about medications and their effects. The number is 1300 888 763.

Further information is available from: National Prescribing Service Telephone (02) 8217 8700 or www.nps.org.au, or The Pharmacy Guild of Australia Telephone (03) 6220 2955.

You may also consider displaying an emergency medical information booklet in your home. These are distributed by Rotary clubs or by telephoning the Rotary Information Line (03) 6229 9830.

6.8   Nuisance Calls

Some telephone service providers offer services to their customers who are receiving unwanted calls. Contact your telephone provider for more information.

Recently the Australian Government introduced legislation to establish a national DO NOT CALL REGISTER from 2007. This register is being created to protect consumers from telemarketing.

The legislation also establishes national minimum contact standards. These standards cover permitted calling hours, minimum information requirements and termination of calls. These standards apply to all telemarketers including specified public interest bodies with exemptions from the register.

6.9   Power of Attorney/Guardianship

Individuals may grant to spouses, carers, close friends or relatives the right to make decisions on health, personal or financial decisions on their behalf.

It is advisable to consult with your solicitor, a Trustee company or the Guardianship and Administration Board to make this decision. Telephone: Public Trustee 1800 068 784 or web site www.publictrustee.tas.gov.au or the Guardianship and Administration Board (03) 6233 3085.

6.10   Scams

Scams cheat people out of their money. These ‘rorts’ or ‘rip-offs’ come in many forms or disguises such as emails asking you to verify your bank details; or a letter or email asking for your help in transferring money out of another country. These scams may also take the form of a phone call with an offer too good to refuse. Always ask the question,” If it sounds so good then why are they offering it to me?”

The best advice in dealing with these matters comes from Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading who recommend:

  • Delete the email.
  • Destroy the letter.
  • Hang up the phone.

More information is available from ‘The Little Black Book of Scams; A Consumer’s Guide to Scams, Swindles, Rorts and Rip Offs’ Published by the Dept of the Treasury, Langton Crescent, Parkes, ACT 2600.

PART 7 – Referral Services

7.1  Advocacy Tas Inc.

This organisation supports and provides information to empower and uphold the rights and interests of older persons, people with a disability or mental illness.

Advocacy Tas may be contacted by telephone (03) 6224 2240 or web site www.advocacytasmania.com.au.

7.2   Building Alterations

Any building alterations or modifications must comply with local council regulations. When investigating reputable building contractors or trades people contact the Masters Builders Association (03) 6234 3810 or the Housing Industry Authority (03) 6230 4600.

7.3   Crime Prevention Groups

Neighbourhood Watch (NHW):

NHW operates throughout Tasmania within local communities. NHW groups are able to supply crime prevention and community safety advice.

Further information is available from Tasmania Police (03) 6230 2178 or the web site: www.nhwtas.org.au or the information line 1300 139 138.

Bush Watch:

Bush Watch is a community based crime prevention initiative aimed at the detection and prevention of offences both on public and private land within rural and remote areas.

Safety Houses:

Safety Houses are located state-wide.

Safety Houses can be both private homes and businesses where children, teenagers and adults of all ages can seek assistance when and if they feel frightened or threatened.

When someone approaches a Safety House and asks for assistance the householder or business person will notify police immediately and request police attendance or advice.

Further information and details on joining the scheme is available from:

Safety House Association of Tasmania Inc
PO Box 542 Glenorchy Tas 7010
Tel/Fax (03) 6272 2606
Email: safetyhousetas@bigpond.com

“Feeling unsafe, knock on a Safety House door”

7.4   Legal Aid

The Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania provides legal advice to individuals who qualify under their criteria. Further information may be obtained by telephoning 1300 366 611 or their website: www. legalaid.tas.gov.au

7.5   Lifeline

Lifeline provides listeners who are available day and night for people who experience emotional distress and despair. This organisation also provides a Victims of Crime Service. They may be contacted on 131 114 or web site www.lifeline.org.au/hobart.

7.6   Local Councils – Footpath Obstructions

Damaged or uneven footpaths and bushes growing to obstruct your path are often of concern. These matters should be referred to your local council.

7.7   Red Cross Service

Australian Red Cross provides the following services for older people:
Telecross Service:

This is a service for people who live alone and are older, have a disability or suffer from illness. Telecross provides a friendly early morning telephone call. The person requiring the service, concerned relatives or friends, medical practitioners or health workers may make referrals.
Emergency Home Alert Service:

The Emergency Home Alert Service is designed for people who live alone or with a frail partner and who may be at risk of accident or sudden illness due to advanced age, ill health or disability. A small personal pendant links to an alarm unit that is monitored 24 hrs a day.
For further information on these services Free Call 1800 246 850.

7.8   Tenancy

For information on any tenancy issue contact the Tenants Union of Tasmania on 1300 652 641 or their website: www.tutas.org.au

7.9   Telephone Connections

Some telephone providers offer programs to help pensioners, the unemployed and people with a disability to access telephone services.

Further information is available from your telephone service provider.

PART 8 – Other Publications

Aged & Community Services – Australia (03 6223 5100)
Publication Confronting Elder Abuse

Australian Red Cross (1800 246 850)
Pamphlets on alarms for emergency service

Australian Securities and Investment Commission (02 6250 3850)
Articles on Scams and Swindlers Nigerian Scams The Little Black Book of Scams

Commonwealth Attorney Generals’ Department (02 6250 6711)
Publication Crime Prevention for Seniors

Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading (1300 654 499)
Pamphlet on scams Fact sheets on consumer issues

Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER) (1300 851 225)
Publication Older Drivers Handbook

Internet Industry Association (02 6232 6900)
Pamphlet Avoiding ID and Computer Fraud

RACT (132 722)
Pamphlet Personal Safety Tips for Motorists

The Tasmanian Fire Service (1800 000 699)
Project Wake Up Fire Safety at Home Preventing and Surviving a House Fire Pamphlet Personal Safety Tips for Motorists Publication Older Drivers Handbook

PART 9 – Acknowledgements

Thank you to the following agencies for assistance in the preparation of this handbook:

  • Aged & Rural Community Health (Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Council on the Ageing
  • Crime Prevention and Community Safety Council
  • Hobart City Council
  • Queensland & South Australian Police Services
  • Tasmanian Community Fund
  • Tasmania Police
  • Others around the State who were involved in the consultation process.

Disclaimer
This booklet has been prepared by the Crown and Council on the Ageing as a community service. While every care has been taken in its preparation to provide sound advice, the handbook should not be used as a substitute for professional security advice.

The Crown in Right of the State of Tasmania together with Council on the Ageing, their servants and agents will not be held liable for any loss or damage, however so arising, from use of or reliance on the information contained in this handbook.