Savvy Seniors Safer Homes

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If you are reading this, then congratulations – you are already being savvy!

Welcome to Council’s place to find reliable and impartial home security information for Seniors. We’d like to help you think about your home and personal security. We want to share some easy and affordable ideas that you can do today that make your home even safer.

It is important to remember that Baw Baw is a very safe place to live. Seniors are not often victims of crime, but we recognise that living independently as a Senior is something that many previous generations did not do – that probably makes you a Community Pioneer!

Savvy Seniors Safer Homes project has been funded from the Victorian Government’s Community Crime Prevention Program. It has been designed and delivered by Baw Baw Shire Council and Victoria Police, with the generous assistance of Senior residents from our communities and Neighbourhood Watch.

The project has three key parts:

  • First survey – Completed
  • Media campaign – coming soon
  • Second survey (late 2020) - to help us understand if the project has made any differences to the way Seniors think and behave in relation to home security.

Senior safety and security at home

Living safely and independently in your own home for as long as you can is a great way to enjoy your Senior years. Being attentive to your changing security needs will help you maintain your independence and wellbeing.
Many tips on this page relate to social connections in your family, neighbourhood and community. A study published in March 2020 by University of Sydney shows that when we take positive action to connect with our community and improve our safety, we are likely to worry a lot less about it. Read more about the research here.

Low and no-cost things you can do

Connect with your neighbourhood

Foster a friendlier neighbourhood – Give a wave to the familiar faces in your street. This doesn’t mean you must stop and have cups of tea with people, but just to be aware of who the usual people are. You might prefer to drop a ‘Hello Neighbour’ card in the letter box of your neighbours. Knowing at least some of your neighbours can really support your home safety and theirs.

Join the neighbourhood conversation – whether that be over the fence, or in a private chat group on social media, be a part of the information exchange. Take care to not share personal information, but these can be useful for letting others know about suspicious behaviours, lost pets or fun things to do. 

Join the local crime prevention conversation - Neighbourhood Watch is a community-based crime prevention program which aims to improve the quality of life within a neighbourhood by minimising preventable crime and promoting closer community ties. The program relies on the community and the police working together in a partnership to achieve these aims.

Neighbourhood Watch Baw Baw always welcomes new members. if anyone wishes to join or  requires any additional information please complete the form on the Neighbourhood Watch website, and they will provide you with the local groups contact details. 

For more information, see the drop-down menu below titled 'Neighbourhood Watch'.

Use services - The Home and Community Care (HACC) program offered at Baw Baw Shire Council provide a range of basic services designed to support frail older people, people with disabilities, and carers, to stay active, independent and living at home for as long as possible. Supporting people to stay active, involved and doing as much for themselves as possible, is proven to help people stay more independent, with a greater sense of control and wellbeing.

Keep in touch with trusted family and friends

Have a social connection outside of your home – being connected with a group or a club in the community supports safer living. Things like a sporting club, a music group, a book club, a church, a walking group all provide activities to join in with, and a social network that can share information and maybe help out if misfortune comes your way. 

Watch for changes in relationships – Maybe it’s in your own relationships, or that of a friend, if something feels like it has changed for the worse, then seek help. See the information on Elder abuse (below) or visit Council’s Get Help and Support page.

Elder Abuse - This is a form of family violence that affects older people. It is any act carried out by a trusted friend or family member that causes harm to an older person. Abuse can be unintentional or deliberate. The harm caused to an older person may range from the unintended effects of poor care through to serious physical injury inflicted deliberately. Harm can also include emotional harm and financial loss including the loss of a home and belongings. For help or information please contact the organisations below:

  • Senior Rights Victoria: Free information, advocacy and legal advice for older people or service providers. Seniors Rights Victoria can be contacted on 1300 368 821.
  • Elder Rights Advocacy: Free advice and support for older people accessing residential care or a home care package. Elder Rights Advocacy can be contacted on 1800 600 700.
  • 1800-ELDER-HELP: Free advice line for people experiencing elder abuse or services needing advice. Free call the advice line on 1800 353 374.

Be a friend to others – just as you benefit from being connected with others, so they benefit from your friendship. 

Report all suspected and actual crimes quickly

Use Triple Zero (000) in an emergency – when someone’s life is or is likely to be in danger, when you need immediate police attendance, a crime is happening now, or an offender is (or may be) still in the area.

To effectively tackle crime in the whole community, Victoria Police need information about all crimes as quickly as possible. This helps the Police to notice trends, or lay charges. If you witness crime or you are a victim of a crime, put your misfortune to good use and report it. The Police Assistance Line and Online Reporting service provides you with the ability to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report lost property or property related crime such as a theft or property damage, or to make general police enquiries. Call 131 444 or submit an online report. 

Scams - report all suspected and actual scams quickly too

Report possible or actual scams - The ACCC encourage you to report scams to them. It helps to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.

Learn about scams - Scamwatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). It provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams. There are many types of Scams including:

  • Attempts to gain your personal information e.g. phishing and Identity theft
  • Rebate scams try to convince you that you are entitled to a rebate or reimbursement from the government, a bank or trusted organisation.
  • Fake charities e.g. Scammers impersonate genuine charities and ask for donations or contact you claiming to collect money after natural disasters or major events
  • Door-to-door and home maintenance scams, generally involve promoting goods and services that are of poor quality, or not delivered at all.

Protect yourself - don't be pressured into making a decision. Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency through short deadlines, fake emergencies or threats of legal action.

Be informed and adaptable

How Safe Is My Place? Once a year, take this free quiz to find out how safe your home is from burglary and what you can do to improve security in and around your home. How Safe Is My Place is an initiative of Neighbourhood Watch Victoria and is supported by RACV. Completing the quiz will provide you with practical tips and advice on how to keep your home, treasured possessions and family secure. Make it part of your annual home and contents insurance routine.

During this free quiz, you will see some hot tips pop up that may help you keep your home safer and improve security around your home.

Seek out help with technology and change passwords regularly – You may have family or friends who can help you with your technology. If you prefer, there are options to learn more about your technology on the internet or in the community. Visit the Seniors’ page on the e-Safety Commissioner website to find out more. 

Store keys, tools and valuables securely and out of sight

In your house - keep your valuables out of sight or locked away when you're not using them.

Keep cash in the bank - not at home or in the console of your car. Even loose change can encourage a thief to break into a car. 

In the car - your garage remote control button gives easy access to your garage which may lead to your house. Keep it with you on your key-ring and avoid leaving it in the car for a thief to use. If you must leave valuables in the car, put them in a locked glovebox or store out of sight.

Believe it or not, your car registration plates can be a target for theft. Use one-way screws to fit the plates to the car to stop a thief from removing them.

In the shed – Keep sheds locked so that your tools are secure and are not used to break into your home.

Mail – Add a lock to your letterbox to protect your important documents that could be used fraudulently. 

Look like you are home when you are not 

Lighting - Fool opportunist burglars by switching on and off lights or turning on the radio to give them the impression you are at home, whilst away.

Mail – ask a trusted neighbour or friend to collect your mail if you are away.

Bins – ask a trusted neighbour to put out and bring in bins if you are not home.

Car in the driveway – again, those trusted neighbours might be able to park a vehicle in your driveway from time to time if you are away for an extended period. 

Crime-fighting landscape around your house!

Pick plants to deter intruders - dense, thorny shrubs or hedges can be off-putting to intruders so consider planting them on, or around, your home's perimeter to keep people off your property.

Gravel paths – can make a crunching sound when walked over, especially if they have recently been topped up. They can give an early warning that someone is approaching.

Passive surveillance – this is a fancy way of asking how visible is your house from the street? Crime is less likely to happen in view of others. Increase the level of passive surveillance on your house by removing excess vegetation, improving lighting, and getting to know your neighbours. Please Note that if you intend to remove vegetation, first check that you are complying with local laws regarding vegetation removal. 

Locks and limiters

Windows rods – a length of dowel in a sliding window track will prevent the pane from opening too far.

Door chain – if you need to open the door to see who has knocked, a door chain limits the amount that it will open. Make sure it is fitted with long, strong screws in both the door and in the door frame.

Door and window locks – chances are you already have these installed. Make a habit of locking doors and windows where someone could gain entry to you home. 

Moderate to high-cost things to consider

Modern technology to deter or detect crime

Install a Home Security System - Homes without a security system are more likely to be broken into than homes with one.  Besides monitoring for breaches, many security companies also offer fire and carbon monoxide detection, as well as features that allow you to control your home’s lighting and appliances while you’re away.

Alarm systems and monitoring -  professional back-to-base alarm system monitoring. 

Smart locks with alarms - an advanced locking system for the security of your home Most smart locks have an alarm system connection that will raise a siren until a pin code, password, or other biometric information such as a thumbprint are availed.

CCTV Cameras - Cameras with a centralised watching point can allow you keep an eye on what happens in all the rooms of your house at once. For information, visit the Choice website which is the leading consumer advocacy group in Australia. 

Motion-activated security lights - Intruders like to operate under cover of darkness, so illuminating the garden when dark is a good way to deter them. It can also make it safer for you and your visitors to navigate. The most effective option is, motion-activated security lights, which can be installed at the front or back of your home.

Motion detectors – these can be installed in your home to get an alert each time a person or animal trespasses into your home. You can install motion detectors near doors and windows for the most security. That way, when anyone approaches any of the entry points for your home, you can get an alert and seek help if necessary. Motion detectors often sense beings heavier than rodents to avoid unnecessary alerts.

Smart Video Doorbell - these let you view, listen and speak to visitors even when you're not at home. Not only can you tell the delivery driver where to put a parcel whilst you are away, they are also handy if you want to check who is at your door either before you answer it or whilst you are out. Even if the bell does not ring, notifications can be sent to your phone when motion is detected, so you can see what’s happening outside your front door using your device.

For a quick fix, try a door chain so you can see and speak to whoever is outside without fully opening your door. Installing a door viewer is another option to see who’s there if you don't have a front window to peek through.

Property maintenance and improvements 

Increase gate and fence security - Make sure that all of your fencing is in good condition – damaged panels could allow thieves to scope out the area and even gain access. Metal gates are more difficult to scale than solid wood alternatives and their open structure can improve ‘passive surveillance’, meaning that suspicious behaviour could be more easily noticed from outside the fence. This works as a deterrent for crime.

Top-up gravel paths and driveways - Noisy to walk on, gravel can help alert you to people approaching your home before they arrive at your front door. If you have a gravelled front drive, garden or pathways, make sure to keep them topped up so that it provides as loud a crunch as possible when walked on.

Modify your home to meet your changing physical needs – For every person, physical health changes across the lifespan. As a Senior, look for ways that your home environment can be changed to remove or avoid hazards. The My Aged Care website has information and can help. 

Security doors – Choosing the right security door for what you need is important. For information, visit the Choice website which is the leading consumer advocacy group in Australia

Personal alerts

Medical Alert System - these share the same kind of monitoring services as home security systems, but the equipment is specifically built to sound the alarm in case of life-threatening emergencies. Seniors can equip a wearable help button that looks like a wristband or pendant, and when the button is pressed it activates the base hub which then dials the medical alert care agents. In short, the system saves a lot of time and effort for the elderly person, since the operators summon the emergency services for them.

Neighbourhood Watch

What is Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbour hood watch is a community based crime prevention program. It aims to reduce the incidence of preventable crime and provide a safer community for all Victorians.

Why Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbourhood Watch is a proven Police and community partnership program against crime. The program was introduced in Victoria in 1984 to assist the Victoria Police to effectively control the crime rate, especially in the incidence of burglary and related thefts.

What are the main strategies of Neighbourhood Watch?

The Neighbourhood Watch program uses four strategies:

  • Operation Identification
  • Reporting suspicious behaviour
  • Security safety awareness
  • Signposting

Operation Identification

  • Marking you valuables makes them less inviting to steal
  • It increases the likelihood that the offender will be caught
  • It provides a greater change of the Police returning your goods to you when they are recovered
  • The Police recommend that you mark your property with your driver licence number, preceded with a "V" for Victoria. Marking pens and engravers are available through your local Neighbourhood Watch.

Reporting suspicious behaviour

  • Neighbourhood Watch will teach you how to identify and report suspicious behaviour
  • Information gathered in this way is provided to local communities by way of area newsletters and the website.

Security and safety awareness

Newsletters and our Facebook pages and groups will provide you with the latest information and advice on: 

  • Personal safety
  • Home security
  • Home safety

They can also inform you of local crime and trends in your area.

Signposting

Your Neighbourhood Watch area will be signposted in prominent locations. These signs will act as a deterrent to criminal activity and indicate that the residents in the area take security seriously.

Where is Neighbourhood Watch?

Neighbourhood Watch has over 5,000 volunteers all over Victoria.

Want more information on Neighbourhood Watch?

To get more information on Neighbourhood Watch in Baw Baw, please visit www.nhw.com.au.

What would I do if I joined Neighbourhood Watch?

 There are roles for you in your local Neighbourhood Watch which would cater for your skills, energy and interests.

Some of the things you could do include:

  • Directly support the Police in reducing crime in your local area
  • Deliver newsletters to the houses in your area.
  • Help at community events with distributing brochures to the public on home security and crime prevention
  • Assist with crime prevention activities such as installing theft-resistant screws in car number plates
  • Edit a newsletter in your local area
  • Managing your local Facebook page or group

To get involved with Neighbourhood Watch:

 

 
We welcome your feedback and would like to hear from you if there is something we can improve. Call or email Council on 1300 229 229 or bawbaw@bawbawshire.vic.gov.au