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If you've got a smart phone you have all you need to take part in SRV's new video project.

Following on from the video series we produced in early 2021, about planning ahead, SRV are now launching a new video project that will reflect the times we live in. The new videos will focus on how we can support those close to us, if we find we need to make decisions on their behalf. The legal elements of these videos are linked to the Guardianship and Administration Act and will highlight how to be a supportive decision maker.

As we face continued lockdowns and social restrictions many of us are missing our loved ones more than ever. So we've decided to create this series of videos acknowledging these times. This means we are inviting video submissions from people throughout Victoria.

SRV wants to create videos that depict people of all ages, from diverse backgrounds, talking about what’s important to them and their loved ones. The videos will be edited together to share the rich and diverse stories of people in Victoria and then go on to explain the considerations and legalities of supported decision making.

If you'd like to participate: Please record yourself talking to camera. You can record yourself for a few seconds, for example talking about one thing that you are missing, or that is important to you or you can record yourself talking for a few minutes on a range of things.

Topics to talk about:

Shooting guide:

Remember, this can be fun/ funny, so please enjoy yourself.

If you have any questions or need any support recording your video please contact lbest@seniorsrights.org.au

Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) has been running a project as part of the Victorian Government's Integrated Services Fund (ISF), since 2018. Administered by the Federation of Community Legal Centres (FCLC), the ISF is special funding for projects that have an early intervention focus, as well as involving integrated services.

SRV's Planning Ahead Project helps people understand the need to plan ahead, in order to protect their rights and wishes as they get older, to reduce the risk of elder abuse. The project also supports carers and loved ones of people as they age, to ensure they understand how best to support them.

A change of focus

From 2018-2021 the project worked in partnership with Dementia Australia, to support people who had been recently diagnosed with dementia. Since 2021 the project has changed focus to connect with harder to reach communities, who may experience barriers to accessing information and/or legal advice.

In late 2021 we selected Ballarat as our pilot regional area to work in. We wanted to identify the priority goals for those working and connecting with older people, so that we could ensure the project supported existing work. We held a forum with 19 attendees from community groups and service providers. We also collected online responses to a survey. This work identified that the priority goals in Ballarat were:

  1. Increase community knowledge 76.92%
  2. Strengthen links with other organisations in Ballarat 69.23%
  3. Reach more people 53.85%

As a result of identifying those goals our service offering has been:  

Next Steps

SRV has begun engagement in Shepparton, Mildura and Bendigo, whilst still working with service providers and community organisations in Ballarat. We have been able to comfortably work and connect with providers and organisations in multiple places concurrently.  

We are currently developing a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training model for lawyers and real estate agents, along with a new Tip Sheet about understanding and reducing the risk of abuse of Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPOA).

Videos

SRV created two series of videos as part of the project, which can be found on our videos page. The Planning Your Future video series was translated into Arabic, Hindi and Vietnamese. The Guardianship and Administration series was created with translation and dubbing in mind.

Flyers

In addition to the Ballarat versions of the flyers SRV has created state-wide versions. Read more.

The Australian Government’s recent National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study estimated that around 15% of the population aged 65 and over, living in the community (rather than residential care) have experienced elder abuse in the past 12 months.  

Most people who experience elder abuse try to manage it themselves and don't seek help or advice. Some might not even realise that what they are experiencing is abuse. 

SRV wants to help people reduce the risk of elder abuse by understanding their rights and increasing knowledge on the ways to plan ahead, to ensure their wishes are met. We’re offering a free information/training session.

When: 15th December 2022 2.30-4.30pm
Where: Ballarat East Neighbourhood House

This training will be great for people who wish to share this important information with their community or workplace. By understanding our rights and planning ahead we can reduce the risks of elder abuse occurring, as well as ensure that we can stop it sooner when it does occur.

The expert from SRV will help you increase your knowledge and skills on the following: 

There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion. 

The session will include a delicious afternoon tea and you will be provided with resources to share with your community after the event. 

To book your place at the session please contact Lucy Best, Project Coordinator at SRV: lbest@seniorsrights.org.au 03 9655 2179 

The Australian Guardianship and Administration Council (AGAC) is the national peak body for Australia’s Public Advocates, Public Guardians, Public or State Trustees and the heads of State and Territory adult guardianship tribunal lists.

The AGAC conference recently took place in Melbourne (and online). The theme of this year’s conference was Renewal: Putting rights into practice.

Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV)’s Principal Lawyer and Manager, Rebecca Edwards, was invited to speak to the conference as part of a panel on  financial elder abuse. Other panel members were Senior Sergeant Alasdair Gall from Victoria Police, Luke Wright from State Trustees and Sonia Di Mezza, CEO of Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services.

From left to right: Sonia Di Mezza, Senior Sergeant Alasdair Gall, Rebecca Edwards, and Luke Wright

Rebecca spoke to attendees about the various ways that financial abuse can manifest, including money being spent without consent or knowledge, someone not repaying loans made to them by an older person and someone misusing powers under an Enduring Power of Attorney.

Rebecca explained that some of the above examples might be considered theft. However, for police, proving theft can be difficult given the burden of proof in a criminal matter. Civil action by SRV’s lawyers on behalf of a client can sometimes be successful in recouping some of the losses.

Rebecca highlighted the ways that SRV works to combat elder abuse particularly around prevention and viewing issues holistically in order to, where possible, resolve issues without legal action being required, which greatly reduces financial and emotional stress.

Rebecca also talked through some of the policy and advocacy that SRV believes will reduce the risks of elder abuse including:

To learn more about The Australian Guardianship and Administration Council (AGAC)  https://www.agac.org.au/

Seniors Rights Victoria acknowledges that societal drivers to elder abuse include ageism and gender inequality. Gender inequality and the way it is expressed in society has been identified as the social condition underlying violence against women. As older women are subject to both ageism and gender inequality, they may be more likely to experience elder abuse than men. That's why SRV is supporting the 16 Days of Activism.

In 2022, Respect Victoria and Safe and Equal are partnering to deliver and support local community engagement with the 16 Days of Activism ‘Respect Women: Call It Out (Respect Is)’ statewide campaign.

Support and funding will be open to grassroots community organisations, regional and state-wide community health organisations, and local councils in Victoria.

16 ways to get involved

Here are just a few ideas. Many of these ideas can also be used beyond the 16 Days of Activism to encourage year-round action for gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence.

1. Join the 2022 Walk Against Family Violence (WAFV) hosted by Safe Steps with support from Respect Victoria on 25 November

To register and for additional resources, visit the Safe Steps website.

2. Host an online event: start conversations about preventing gender-based violence

Use the conversation starter kit to support a conversation about respect, gender-based violence, everyday sexism and how to call it out. Use VicHealth’s Framing Gender Equality Messaging Guide to help inform your messaging.

3. Get active on social media

Use the Fast facts: Attitudes to violence against women and gender equality to support your messages. See Dealing with resistance and backlash for tips on dealing with online resistance and backlash. Ask your Councillors, Presidents or Chairs to support the initiative through social media. Use the selfie frame provided in this toolkit.

4. Engage with diverse sources of lived experience

For further information about the multiple sources of lived experience and how your campaign could include lived experiences, see the Safe and Equal paper Sources of lived experience in the family violence sector.

5. Share books that challenge traditional gender stereotypes

Use the book lists to create library displays, promote to book clubs and distribute among colleagues, family and friends.

6. Elevate the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, refugee and migrant women

Three helpful resources include Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency’s (VACCA) #SafeKooriFamilies – There Is Another Way information, Djirra’s cartoon-style YouTube videos of Kirra, Alinta and Marli, and resources and social media tiles developed by InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence in partnership with Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria and Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health.

7. Share learnings about gender diversity

Advocating for equality, safety, security, freedom and respect for all women, transgender, gender-diverse and non-binary people is a critical component of long-term, sustainable primary prevention.

The Trans101 gender diversity crash course is a great place to start. Transfemme is a great entry point.

8. Add the Respect Women: ‘Call It Out’ logo to your email signature

Use the digital signature banner in this toolkit and the virtual background in your Zoom meetings.

9. Wear orange and get your colleagues to wear orange too!

Orange symbolises a brighter future and a world free from violence against women and girls. Take a photo of you and your colleagues in orange using the virtual selfie frame and share.

10. Use values-based messaging to strengthen the impact and reach of your campaign

Values-based messaging is a form of communication that appeals to people’s core values and principles to affect change.

For more information on values-based messaging, see these messaging guides developed in collaboration with Common Cause:

11. Make the link with masculinities and health to engage men and boys in primary prevention

Visit VicHealth – Masculinities and health

Build men’s awareness of the negative impacts of outdated forms of masculinity and encourage them to challenge dominant forms of masculinity as an avenue for engaging in preventing violence against women.

Check out Our Watch's Men in focus practice guide. No To Violence also have a range of resources to help support work in this space.

12. Run a competition

Organise a ‘challenging gender stereotypes’ art competition or a competition relating to what respect looks like in the context of gender equality and prevention of violence against women.

13. Display physical or digital posters/banners in your workspace and around your community

Display posters or banners (for example, the A-Z of Preventing violence against women) in your workplace, on your website and social media channels and on community notice boards.

14. Partner with local businesses

Ask local cafes to put stickers or printed sleeves on their coffee cups during the 16 Days of Activism. Ask local businesses including medical centres, supermarkets, chemists and petrol stations to display posters.

15. Ensure your events and materials are accessible to people with disabilities

Women with disabilities are twice as likely as women without disabilities to experience violence throughout their lives, but they are often left out of the conversation. Changing the Landscape, by Our Watch and Women with Disabilities Victoria, is a national, evidence-based resource to guide the prevention of violence against women and girls with disabilities.

16. Learn more about preventing violence against older women

A particular area of focus for strengthening bystander action is in recognising, elevating and responding to the experiences of older women. For more guidance, see these resources:

Visit the Safe and Equal website for more.

the a to z of preventing gender based violence from Our Watch

What do you do at SRV

I am a community lawyer in the SRV Casework team, I advise on legal issues arising from elder abuse, and in some cases act on behalf of older people who have suffered elder abuse.

How long have you worked at SRV? 

Two years, starting in August 2020.

What do you like most about your role? 

Working with the amazing SRV team, which contains so many talented and supportive colleagues.

If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be? 

If it was that easy, I would want to become an expert in something very hard and which I have no clue about, like quantum mechanics. I have also always wanted to be an expert horse rider.

Julia on a recent adventure

A group of staff from Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) and COTA Victoria recently attended Deaf Awareness Training, with Expression Australia at the John Pierce Centre.

Established in 1884, Expression Australia is a not-for-profit organisation created by and for the Deaf Community. Expression Australia works to empower people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, to overcome barriers in their life and choose how they want to live. Expression Australia provides supports and links to services for Deaf people, as well as offering Auslan interpreting and captioning services and training for anyone outside of the Deaf community.

The John Pierce Centre (JPC) operates as an independent not for profit company. It's a member of Catholic Social Services Victoria. The Catholic Church supports JPC by providing the premises as a Deaf Community Centre. The services of the JPC are available to all Deaf people and include family support programs, counselling and adult education opportunities.

SRV and COTA Vic staff developed an understanding that 'Deaf' with a capital d is used to describe a culturally deaf person, who uses sign language. The Deaf community has a rich and diverse culture. The official language of the Deaf community in Australia is Auslan. Auslan has been was recognised in Australia as a community language since 1987.

Attendees learnt about the unique syntax and grammar of Auslan and some useful tips and tools for non-Deaf people to use when communicating with people in the Deaf community.

The session was extremely interesting. Staff enjoyed the session, learnt a lot, and several staff said that they were inspired to seek further training, particularly to learn Auslan.

SRV and COTA Victoria would like to thank Expression Australia, the John Pierce Centre and staff members Gary Ferguson and Margherita Riccioni for coordinating this fantastic training session.

Image of SRV and COTA Vic staff attending Deaf Awareness Training, with Expression Australia at the John Pierce Centre. Photo credit: Margherita Riccioni

Facts

Martin, 64 years of age, had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and was living at home with his wife of many years. Martin’s wife was appointed as his Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA). Martin experienced a psychotic episode after the administration of a trial drug for Alzheimer’s. Following a period of hospitalisation, Martin’s wife admitted Martin into residential care without any consultation with him or his family.

Martin’s brother rang the SRV helpline seeking assistance for Martin. A telephone advice appointment was arranged for Martin to speak to a lawyer and an advocate at SRV, with his brother there for support. During the advice appointment, it was clear that Martin wanted to leave the facility and live independently and freely. Martin’s brother confirmed that he was prepared to assist Martin to do so, if there were no legal restrictions.

The lawyer and advocate provided initial advice to Martin, informing him of his rights. Martin requested a copy of his EPOA from the manager at the facility. He was denied this right.

Considerations

After consulting with Elder Rights Advocacy and the SRV lawyer, the SRV advocate contacted the manager of the facility. The advocate explained that the refusal was a breach of Martin’s rights and the facility’s obligations under the Charter of Aged Care. The manager was unaware of the requirements under the Charter of Aged Care and apologised, saying that Martin would be given a copy of his EPOA.

Martin and his brother received ongoing legal advice and advocacy support/coaching for Martin to leave the facility. Martin moved in with his brother and sister in law, who was supportive of the plan and an experienced aged care worker. He then needed to remove his wife as EPOA, as she had continued to ignore his will and preference, was selling off his personal items and had accessed Martin’s superannuation and other bank accounts – all without Martin’s consent.

The SRV lawyer advised Martin and his brother to lodge an application to VCAT, under the Guardianship and Administration Act, seeking removal of the Attorney. SRV supported them with the application and assisted with gathering medical reports and undertaking a cognitive assessment by a neurologist experienced in cognitive decline.

For nearly two years, the SRV advocate and lawyer supported Martin. This included representing Martin at VCAT hearings, having regular consultations, and liaising with external services such as mental health providers, NDIS, and a private law firm. While it was clear to SRV staff that Martin did have cognitive decline, SRV took an empowerment approach to their assistance of Martin. Martin was able to clearly identify and communicate his intended goals. Martin’s brother demonstrated his commitment to support Martin achieve his goals and to live independently.

Martin now lives independently in his own unit, in a lifestyle village. He manages all areas of his life except for his financial matters. His brother is his financial administrator, as per a VCAT order. Martin has concluded a family law property settlement and obtained a divorce. He had his driver’s license reinstated and purchased a car. He attends exercise classes twice weekly, walks daily, and spends time with family and friends. Martin is in good physical health. His cognition has improved so much that he has resumed his passion for reading books. Martin’s next goal in the coming months is to drive solo to QLD to visit friends.

Help is available

If you, or someone you know needs of some support you can call the SRV Helpline on 1300 368 821

This year the Seniors Rights Victoria's Community Education Program will be involved in the Castlemaine Seniors Festival events being organised by Castlemaine Community House.

Seniors Rights Victoria advocate, Dorothy Campbell, will be attending the Community Expo and Lunch on October 4th.

Dorothy will also be presenting on Your Rights and Decisions on October 6th.

Mini Expo

Where: Castlemaine Town Hall
When: Tuesday October 4th 12:30
Held as part of Castlemaine Community Lunch
Lunch, information stalls and entertainment
Seniors eat for free!

Courtesy bus available. Bookings are essential for Information Sessions and bus. Book at Castlemaine Community House. 30 Templeton St. Castlemaine www.cch.org.au
email: reception@cch.org.au Tel: 5472 4842

These events are brought to you by Victorian Seniors Festival, Castlemaine Community House, Mount Alexander Shire Council and Positive Ageing Advocacy Group

Other Information Sessions as part of Seniors Festival in Castlemaine

Council Support for Elders in Mount Alexander Shire
Where: Senior Citizens Centre
When: Wednesday 5th October. 9.30am. Morning Tea at 10.30am

Your Rights & Decisions Seniors Rights Victoria (Dorothy Campbell)
Where: Senior Citizens Centre
When: Thursday 6th October. 9.30am. Morning Tea at 10:30 followed by:

Wills & Estates (Caroline Grainger)
When: 11.00am followed by

Be Connected (Goldfields Library)
When: 1.00pm. Afternoon Tea at 1.30pm followed by:

Housing needs of Seniors
When: 2.00pm

Staying Active (Dhelkaya Health)
Where: Ray Bradfield Room
When: 10.00am. Morning Tea at 11.00am followed by

Staying Socially Connected
When: 11.30am

At Seniors Rights Victoria we have a monthly team catch up. It's been great to be able to get together in person recently, after the ongoing lockdowns in Melbourne over the past couple of years. We've been lucky enough to have some special guests join us for our get togethers and in August we met with members of the team at Djirra.

About Djirra

Djirra is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation that provides holistic, culturally safe, legal and non-legal support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experience family violence – predominantly women. Djirra also designs and delivers important, community-based early intervention and prevention programs and undertakes policy and law reform work to improve access to justice, strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s resilience and reduce vulnerability to violence. Djirra finds solutions through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women sharing their stories, journeys, and experiences.

Getting together with Djirra helped us identify ways that we can work together to help people who have experienced abuse recover and heal. It was also inspiring to hear from each other how SRV and Djirra are working in primary prevention, in the hope of creating a world where people can live free from abuse and fear - where organisations like ours won't need to exist!

You can find out more about Djirra here and get involved with upcoming events.

Members of the teams at SRV and Djirra catching up in the SRV and COTA Victoria offices

Join Seniors Rights Victoria's Education Coordinator, Gary Ferguson, for an online interactive forum to increase your understanding of elder abuse and how to respond appropriately. This event is hosted by Ballarat Community Health Services.

Gary has a dynamic training style, which aims to make the session interactive and informative. He has delivered training to professionals and workers in the health, local government, community, aged care and associated sectors across Victoria.

Aimed at professionals, staff and others in the family violence, community, health and other sectors. This training will offer participants a greater understanding of what elder abuse is, how to recognise it and how to respond to it.

WHEN: Thursday October 13th, 2022 10am-12pm
COST: FREE
WHERE: Online
HOW: Bookings essential via this link

For more information contact:
Kate Diamond-Keith, Ballarat Community Health
p. 0439461495 | e. kated@bchc.org.au

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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