Seniors Rights Victoria has continued to work over the past year with the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) and a number of CALD communities to develop resources for those communities about elder abuse. New brochures and community education kits are now available in Russian, Vietnamese, Hindi, Punjabi, and Tamil (brochure only) from our Online Elder Abuse Toolkit Resource Library.
Elder abuse is much more common than our society has traditionally admitted. Much of the problem has been hidden, undefined and under reported. While elder abuse is not a new problem, our society is increasingly recognising and describing ‘elder abuse’ as a range of situations involving the maltreatment or neglect of older people by people they should be able to trust, such as family and friends.
The Victorian Government is acting to overcome elder abuse by working with service providers, professionals and the community through the Elder Abuse Prevention and Response Initiative. This online training has been initiated to assist in building the capacity of the Victorian workforce to identify and respond to elder abuse and is based on the Victorian Government Practice Guide, With respect to age 2009.
Representatives of Filipino community groups across Victoria are participating. Their role is to advise ECCV on how to raise awareness of the issue of mistreatment of older people including identifying the cultural context and perceptions of elder abuse among older people in the Filipino community. Their advice will guide the project in developing a community education strategy.
Seniors Rights Victoria educates older Victorians on issues relating to elder abuse, including prevention, in order to give them more confidence and control over their own lives.
Our experienced trainers also work with community groups and service providers to raise awareness of elder abuse.
Through our community education program Seniors Rights Victoria provides informative, accessible workshops and presentations for older people, family members and carers.
Seniors Rights Victoria community education is underpinned by empowerment and prevention frameworks. It raises awareness of abuse, builds the capacity of the community to respond to abuse and enables older people to take action.
Seniors Rights Victoria, an elder abuse service based on the advocacy-social worker/lawyer model is this year celebrating its 10 year anniversary with a celebration on Thursday 4 October.
Guest speakers will include Victorian Commissioner for Seniors and Ambassador for Elder Abuse Gerard Mansour and Seniors Rights’ peer educator Jennifer Evans.
A visionary Victorian State Government initiative, Seniors Rights Victoria was established by the Victorian Government in 2008 following the review conducted by ex-Senator Barney Cooney. In that year the State Government adopted a state-wide elder abuse strategy – the first state in Australia to do so!
Seniors Rights Victoria is pleased to announce it has received funding from the Department of Justice and Regulation to partner with Dementia Australia (DA) for a pilot series of legal information sessions and clinics in Victoria. Advocacy is an integral component of the project to ensure a holistic response to the non-legal needs of participants.
The sessions and clinics combined will enable people who have been recently diagnosed with dementia to plan ahead and to make informed choices about their future financial, health or care arrangements, as well as to put those choices into an appropriate legal format. The pilot project will run for a year.
Seniors Rights Victoria’s often uses conversation seeds by way of image props and discussions in their community education sessions, with many of the current talks listed on the WEAAD website.
Community education coordinator Gary Ferguson and a team of volunteer peer educators enjoy the sessions, helping older people and the professionals working with them to understand how they can prevent elder abuse. For a community educator’s perspective read Gina’s story.
The conversation seeds, such as the image pictured, are used as a starting point for their discussions about elder abuse, the link to ageism and the rights of older people. This image illustrates Lloyd Kahn’s skateboarding story which began at the age of 64. The image is him at 79 years still pursuing his passion. When he was 66 years old he fell off and broke his left arm. The treating doctor at the hospital didn’t tell Lloyd he was too old, but attended to his broken arm and advised how he could skateboard safely by wearing protective gear.
When Seniors Rights Victoria’s peer educator Gina Fiske has an older person start to talk to her about the disrespect they are being shown in the family, she stops talking and listens.
Gina brings the breadth of a career in family, youth and child programs and heath prevention. She understands the most important aspect for someone brave enough to share their elder abuse story is to be believed.
“People are often fearful of talking to other people about their situation, they’ve often lived with it for a long time,” Gina said.
Seniors Rights Victoria is turning 10 this year, with plans to celebrate our achievements in the pipeline. For such a young organisation, we punch above our weight!
- Since June 2009, we have had 17,101 calls to our helpline. Our calls per year now compared to that first year have doubled. Then, as now, financial elder abuse was the issue that most people called about.
- In the past 10 years, we have grown by leaps and bounds from just five staff to 14 people, working in prevention of elder abuse, community education, a helpline advice service, legal and social casework, communications, and policy and law reform. The professional expertise covers all these areas.
- We recently relocated with our fellow colleagues at the Council on the Ageing Victoria to accommodate our growing team, leaving the Block Arcade to be co-located on Level 4/533 Little Lonsdale, Melbourne – conveniently right near Flagstaff Train Station.
We have seen a huge spike in the acknowledgement and interest of elder abuse, resulting in part from the recommendations of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2016 and the subsequent, ongoing Victorian government reforms, which recognise elder abuse as a form of family violence.
The Federal Government has also been integral in this space, with former Attorney General George Brandis launching the report of the Australian Law Reform Commission at our 2017 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event and funding Elder Abuse Action Australia, an organisation supporting the national coordination and advocacy of issues related to elder abuse. Last month, the new Attorney General Christian Porter committed to putting forward a National Plan to combat elder abuse.
The Country Women’s Association (CWA) in Victoria has adopted elder abuse as their main social issue to pursue in 2018 following the recommendation of their Social Issues Committee.
CWA Social Issues Committee Chairperson Viviane Chemali (pictured) has been promoting the availability of Seniors Rights Victoria speakers to CWA branches throughout Victoria.
About 30 women attended a presentation given by Seniors Rights Victoria Community Education Co-ordinator Gary Ferguson and volunteer speaker Jennifer Evans at the first of these talks held at Umina, the CWA State Headquarters last month.