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Seniors Rights Victoria has analysed data from our helpline and advice service to better understand how the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Victoria affected the clients – and potential clients – of our service. Please read the summary document here, and if you require more information please contact us.

You can read the summary of our data here

In 2019, Mary and her adult children turned up with suitcases to her elderly parents, Lucy and Peter’s, home. Mary told her parents that her family had nowhere to live and asked to stay for a few weeks while they found a rental property. Lucy and Peter wanted to help and agreed to this short-term arrangement. However, once they’d moved in it became clear that Mary and her adult children were making no attempts to find alternative accommodation.

Over 12 months, the situation worsened for Lucy and Peter. Mary’s belongings took over the house, she made no financial contributions and appeared to have no plan to leave. Mary was increasingly verbally abusive to Lucy and Peter, making their home a stressful place to be.

In 2020, Lucy and Peter sought advice from Senior Rights Victoria (SRV) about the situation. After this discussion, Mary was informed that she had no right to reside with Lucy and Peter, and that she and her children should vacate. This inflamed Mary, who hurled abuse at Lucy and Peter. They telephoned SRV, who contacted detectives from the local Family Violence Investigation Unit. A Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSN) was served on Mary and her children. FVSNs can be issued on the spot to protect people. Like Family Violence Intervention orders, FVSNs have conditions. In line with these conditions, Mary and her children were removed from the premises and provided with local emergency accommodation.

Lucy and Peter had initially been reluctant to involve police. However, trusting the advice and support of Seniors Rights Victoria, empowered them to act. The partnership between Seniors Rights Victoria and Victoria Police, meant that Lucy and Peter were willing to involve the police.

Lucy and Peter can now live in their own home safe and free from violence.

SRV has a free helpline. People can call the helpline to talk to one of our experienced advocates who can help them understand if an issue is elder abuse and to provide some options about how to resolve the situation. In many cases, SRV can link callers with appropriate advice and/or referrals. Where an older person needs more assistance than is available on the Helpline, legal and/or social work advice or casework may be available. 1300 368 821

Crime Stoppers Victoria have released a five-part podcast series ‘Elder Abuse – Prevention and Protection’. Including interviews with staff from Seniors Rights Victoria, Victoria Police, Office of the Public Advocate and the Law Institute of Victoria, the series aims to increase community awareness of elder abuse.

“Elder abuse is an issue that may be taking place in households of those who are close to us,” said Crime Stoppers Victoria Chief Executive Stella Smith. “Given the victim may be reluctant to raise these matters to friends and family due to fear or pride, we need to pay attention to the elder members in our world and let them know we are there for them.”

The podcast series explores the impact of elder abuse on older people as well as detailing Victoria Police’s trial program focused on investigating financial exploitation of older people.

It also considers how ageism can be a driver of elder abuse and how important it is to ensure the older person is part of the decision-making process, regarding any interventions to stop abuse.

Episode 1 features SRV’s policy officer Melanie Joosten, who provides an overview of elder abuse and its impact within the community. Melanie talk about how to ensure an older person is included in decisions and for to be mindful of ageist behaviour.

‘We should always be checking in to make sure the older person is a willing participant in whatever is happening.” Mel says, “It’s always good for us to each check our internal ageism and perhaps how we treat the older people in our lives.”

Where to Listen

The podcast is available on Crime Stoppers' website.

You can also find it on podcast playing services, including Apple and Spotify.

Thanks to funding from the Integrated Services Fund, established by the Victorian Government and administered by the Federation of Community Legal Centres, Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) and Dementia Australia (DA) have been working in partnership. Since 2018 we've worked together to deliver information for people with dementia and their carers. The information supports people to protect their rights and wishes, in order to safeguard them from future distress and potential elder abuse.

The increased risk of elder abuse for people with dementia is often the result of a loss of decision-making capacity. This can result in decisions being made for them, that might not align with their wishes. It can  be difficult to have the conversations required in order to ensure wishes are understood, meaning planning is often neglected or avoided. This makes people with dementia more vulnerable as their condition progresses.

As part of SRV’s project with DA, informative videos were made and are now available on our website. The videos will be of interest to anyone working in primary prevention, or with clients who are experiencing dementia. There is one longer video, containing all the information and it has also been broken down into five shorter videos. There is also a discussion guide for each video.

The videos were officially launched by John Chesterman, Victoria’s Deputy Public Advocate on 15th June, as part of our Stir a Cuppa for Seniors event (link to article about WEAAD) on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

If you work with a group that may benefit from a presentation, followed by a discussion, about planning for the future, please contact lbest@seniorsrights.org.au

View the videos

Video topics are

On June 15th, Seniors Rights Victoria held its annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day flagship event online. The focus of 2021’s Stir A Cuppa for Seniors Forum was challenging ageism; the main driver of elder abuse, and urging attendees to agitate against ageist attitudes and stereotypes.

Facilitating a conversation on experiences of ageing, Ambassador for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, Gerard Mansour, introduced the topic by presenting his report “Ageing Well in a Challenging World”.

“The whole objective of avoiding elder abuse is to age well,” Gerard said, presenting some of the 8 attributes of ageing well. This included a positive attitude, be respected and respectful, connectedness and participating in a changing world.

A group of four diverse panellists had a conversation on their own experience of ageing. Jennifer, Chandra, Valerie and Nate brought a range of perspectives. Nate and Valerie are part of the Buds Program of Lively, a home-care provider that employs younger people to offer support to seniors, Jennifer is a former Senior Achiever of the Year and Chandra is a Sri Lankan woman, and community leader.

23-year-old Nate, from Lively, has worked with Valerie to increase her confidence using technology.

“The window of opportunity is closing,” 76-year-old Valerie said, “however I’m pushing the window back up because there’s still a lot more to learn.”

Among the take home messages from the panel discussion was the fine balance between accepting the limitations of ageing and not letting them overtake you.

Ageism can only be counteracted by the representation of older people as valuable and contributing members of the community. Each of us has an obligation to stir up ageist attitudes so that younger and older people can continue their lives with dignity and respect.

You can read more about Gerard Mansour's report “Ageing Well in a Challenging World”, here.

Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) is delighted to welcome you to our new website.

The website is chock full of information for older people, their loved ones and carers, and professionals working with them.

On this website you can find information about what elder abuse is, people’s rights, where to get help, how to stay connected with others, information about policy and research being undertaken by SRV and COTA Victoria, how to best plan for the future, and news and events. There are case studies on the website, which provide examples of how issues can be resolved or avoided.

Also featured on our new website is our series of videos and discussion guides, to help guide people through the steps of future planning.

As part of our work to refresh SRV’s website we have also updated our logo. As you can see the new logo states that SRV is a program of COTA Victoria and has the same font as used on the COTA logo. This is to reinforce and highlight our connection, without being a dramatic change that might cause confusion. We’re really pleased with this fresh new look logo and hope you like it too.

Feel free to drop us a line with any feedback about the new website or logo admin@seniorsrights.org.au

SRV has a free helpline. People can call the helpline to talk to one of our experienced advocates who can help them understand if an issue is elder abuse and to provide some options about how to resolve the situation. In many cases, SRV can link callers with appropriate advice and/or referrals. Where an older person needs more assistance than is available on the Helpline, legal and/or social work advice or casework may be available. 1300 368821

Position:  Director

Organisation : Council on the Ageing Victoria (COTA)

Location:  Melbourne 

Salary Type : Volunteer

Closing date : 13th August (3 week campaign)

Job Summary

Seeking a suitably skilled individual to work in a leading not-for-profit organisation representing the interests and rights of older people as a member of the organisation’s  Board of Directors.

About the Organisation

Council on the Ageing (COTA Victoria) is the leading not-for-profit organisation representing the interests and rights of people aged over 50 in Victoria. For 70 years in Victoria, we have led government, corporate and community thinking about the positive aspects of ageing.

COTA Victoria's strategic and operational focus is on promoting older age as a time of opportunities for personal growth, contribution and self-expression. We believe there are obvious National, State, community, family and individual benefits from this approach.

COTA Victoria has an experienced Board; highly qualified, permanent staff located in a central Melbourne office location; and a broad State membership and volunteer base. COTA Victoria’s largest program Seniors Rights Victoria is a specialist community legal centre that addresses and responds to elder abuse.

About the Role

This is an outstanding opportunity to work with a committed Board to build your pro-bono board experience as well as making a significant impact on the lives of older people.

Our organisation is governed by a progressive Board of Directors with a wide variety of skills and experiences which now seeks to add an enthusiastic Volunteer Board Director to a vacant position. We are particularly interested in a person with experience in Law, community legal centres and/or the community sector. 

Previous or current Board experience would be highly regarded.   Applicants must be residents within Victoria.

We’re looking for someone with:

How to Apply:

This is an unpaid position. 

Please send a covering letter demonstrating what value/s you believe you will bring to this position including a copy of your current curriculum vitae to ceo@cotavic.org.au.

Many situations can lead to the formation of intergenerational households, where several members of different ages from the same family live together. These households can bring joy and opportunities for different family members to bond and support each other. However, sometimes these households can lead to abuse and mistreatment of vulnerable family members, including older family members. The Principal Lawyer and Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria, Rebecca Edwards said, “Having conversations about expectations of different members of the family before moving in together can really help in establishing a shared vision about how the arrangement will work. This can help limit disputes later down the track”.

This new tip sheet was developed by Seniors Rights Victoria in collaboration with the Domestic Violence Resource Centre and Domestic Violence Victoria. Released in June 2021, the tip sheet explains how to respond to instances of abuse and mistreatment in intergenerational households. The resource is for those professionals and staff working with families and older people, where an older family member is being subjected to or at risk of elder abuse. SRV encourages professionals working with older people to be attuned to what the living, care and financial arrangements are within the household.

Tip Sheet: Identifying and responding to elder abuse in intergenerational households

The annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) Forum focussed on ageing this year. The panel discussion, Conversations on Ageing was facilitated by the Victorian Commissioner for Seniors, Gerard Mansour. Gerard is also the Victorian Ambassador for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

Gerard introduced the conversation by presenting on the report “Ageing Well in a Changing World” and its findings from over 5,000 consultations. During his introduction, Gerard highlighted the 8 attributes of ageing well and focussed on positive attitude, being respected and being respectful, connectedness with others and staying in touch.

“The objective in avoiding elder abuse is the opposite to that which is ageing well,” Gerard said in his presentation.

“We want to be valued in our community, irrespective of where we are on the journey of ageing,” he said.

The panellists joined the conversation and brought with them personal insights into the ageing journey. Selected from a variety of backgrounds the panellists spoke of their passions, concerns and future ambitions.

Jennifer, a Volunteer Speaker with Seniors Rights Victoria and a climate change activist said, “I find it important to be part of a group, that shares my values and ideas so that we can give each other hope.”

Chandra, who is President of the Sri Lankan Welfare Association, spoke of her future desire to work with the children and grandchildren of older members so that they gained a greater understanding of older people.

The panel included two buds from Lively, a non-profit organisation, that employs young people as Lively Helpers offering care and support to keep old people active, social and connected to their community.

Val, a 76 year old woman who disclosed that she is legally blind, said, “I have a lot to achieve yet and see the future as a window of opportunity.”

Her bud, Nate, a 23-year-old helper from Lively, said, “What I really like about the age I am at is the spontaneity to be able to do the things I want.” Nate brought a refreshing perspective to the conversation on ageing and challenged the often-held view by older people that “younger people have no respect for older people”.

Conversations on ageing was an important contribution to the discussion on ageism, which is the main driver of elder abuse.

At the end of 2018 Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) and Dementia Australia (DA) received funding, as part of the Victorian Government’s Integrated Services Fund, to work in partnership to assist people recently diagnosed with dementia plan for their future. The project involved SRV and DA working together to support people to have conversations with family and friends about their future wishes, as well as to put in place well considered legal protections to ensure those wishes are met, their rights are upheld and to potentially prevent elder abuse from occurring.

Together with Dementia Australia, we designed and delivered information sessions for people recently diagnosed with dementia and their supporters. The information sessions covered the need to plan, how to have the conversations with family and friends, and what decision making capacity means. The sessions also explained the legal implications of Power of Attorney documents, roles and responsibilities of appointed attorneys and how best to manage these.

An evaluation after the first year of the project showed: 

In the third year of the project this series of videos was made, so that the important information in the sessions can be easily shared in an engaging way by people outside of SRV or DA.

You can watch these videos in two ways, either one longer video, which contains all the information in one session, or as five shorter videos that can be watched one at a time and followed up with a discussion, before moving on to the next video.

Check out the videos here

Call
If you, or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, help is available through our confidential helpline on 1300 368 821. If it is an emergency, call 000.
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