Author Archives: amanda kunkler

Q&As from the webinar

Answers to audience questions during Seniors Rights Victoria’s online webinar on 26 August 2020 discussing the report Seven Years of Elder Abuse Data in Victoria.

How many of those that you support have sought or want police assistance?

I don’t know if I could give you a percentage. A fair few people with ‘typical’ family violence issues have had police come around to the house in response to calls they make or neighbours or others make. Police also often take out intervention orders.

On top of that, we encourage people to contact police in some circumstances or we contact police for them (with their consent). We have a good relationship with police that is only improving with time. read more

MEDIA RELEASE: Extra funding provided for Seniors Rights Victoria

Media Release | 25 June 2020

A total of $321,500 in funding over the next two years will help Seniors Right Victoria maintain services to older Victorians — especially those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — who are experiencing elder abuse.

Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey welcomed the extra funding announced recently by the Victorian Attorney-General, Jill Hennessy.

‘On 9 May 2020, I was pleased to announce $17.5 million in additional funding to assist frontline legal assistance services in responding to COVID-19,’ Ms Hennessy said.

‘Our funding matched—and exceeded—the Commonwealth Government’s commitment of $12.092 million.

‘The additional funds for Seniors Rights Victoria recognise that it provides specialist legal assistance in an area of heightened demand for a vulnerable client cohort, due to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions.

‘I appreciate the way you and your team have maintained consistent and effective service delivery during these difficult times.’

Ms Blakey thanked the Victorian Government for the extra funding which she said would help Seniors Rights Victoria maintain advocacy and legal services for people who were experiencing elder abuse.

‘Callers to our helpline — 1300 368 821 — are more anxious and under greater stress because of the pandemic,’ Ms Blakey said. ‘We know that when families experience significant financial pressures that some older family members may be unduly pressured to surrender money and assets.

‘Elder abuse stems from the way the community views older Victorians. Unless we acknowledge and value the key part that older people play in our society, we will not reduce the rates of elder abuse. The current restrictions should not mean that older Victorians are any less engaged and included than before the pandemic.’

Seniors Rights Victoria provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people.
Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as family or friends. If you, your client or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, call the confidential helpline on 1300 368 821.

For more information, call Phillip Money, Senior Media and Communications Advisor, COTA Victoria, on 0407 329 055.

Members of the Elder Abuse Roundtable pictured last year with the Aged Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson AO, seated front right

Roundtable considers the impacts of COVID-19

Members of the Elder Abuse Roundtable pictured last year with the Aged Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Kay Patterson AO, seated front right

Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) is working hard to understand how older people, particularly those who are at risk of elder abuse, might be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated period of isolation.

SRV recently convened a meeting with organisations that are part of the Elder Abuse Roundtable to discuss how the pandemic is affecting older people within their client base and what can be done to mitigate the impacts.

The roundtables are held quarterly and are attended by organisations including National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), Victoria Police, Eastern Community Legal Service, Pronia, Transgender Victoria, Office of the Public Advocate, No To Violence, Better Place Australia, and Elder Rights Advocacy.

The discussion highlighted how many older people are feeling extremely isolated and lonely, having given up many of their usual activities, and not feeling comfortable accessing health and community services as they did before. With libraries, community and activity groups, cultural clubs and faith-based activities closed down, many people have been unable to stay in contact with their communities. This highlights a need for organisations to continue to reach out to the community, particularly people who do not have access to the internet and online services.

As some organisations have moved to providing services online or via telephone there is some concern that it is more difficult for professionals to pick up on signs that a person may be experiencing abuse. While telehealth and online services are better than nothing, they are not always suitable or user-friendly for older people, and it is important that the value of face-to-face contact is not lost as we move into a post-pandemic environment.

For some people their living arrangements have changed because of COVID-19, with respite options not readily available, or having to support family members who are out of work or facing other pressures. Older people who are private renters have also been having difficulty, particularly if their part-time work has been lost.

Importantly, the meeting recognised that as the official lockdown period begins to ease, older people as a more vulnerable cohort, continue to face uncertainty about what they should and shouldn’t do, highlighting the importance of continued advocacy for the needs of all older people at this time.

Dororthy Gilmour and Mary Barry who have initiated a Rotary program on family violence

Resource kit marks 100 years of Rotary Melbourne

Pictured above are Dorothy Gilmour, left, and Mary Barry

A project to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Melbourne will help raise awareness of elder abuse throughout Australia. ‘Rotary Melbourne is the first and largest club in Australasia,’ said Dorothy Gilmour, who initiated the Rotary Safe Families Program along with Mary Barry.

‘We have created two films and a message from Victoria Police for people to access, download and use as a tool to stem the flow and for prevention of family violence in particular violence against women, its impact on our children and abuse of our elderly,’ said Ms Gilmour.

Click here to access the resources

SRV Manager Jenny Blakey features along with the Commissioner for Senior Victorians Gerard Mansour in the video that discusses elder abuse.

‘I believe that everyone has the right to live safely and with dignity,’ Ms Blakey said in the video. ‘When I came to his job, I was really surprised that older people were not included. My concern is to make a change; to make some difference so that this [elder abuse] does not happen.’

Ms Gilmour is an educator in social sciences and therapist in trauma, loss and grief while Ms Barry was formerly chief executive officer of Our Watch, the national organisation to prevent violence against women and their children.

The Rotary Safe Families Program can be used at:

  • Rotary meetings throughout Australia
  • fund raisers on prevention of family violence/elder abuse
  • as an educational or information program in the workplace or community.

Illustration showing older woman holding a postcard detailing the Respect Older People: Call It Out Campaign

Respect Older People: Call It Out campaign relaunched

Respect Victoria and the state government have relaunched their Respect Older People: Call It Out campaign, which highlights the often-hidden nature of elder abuse and reminds Victorians that it is everybody’s business.

The campaign highlights the warning signs of elder abuse in the home and encourages neighbours, family members, friends, carers and community members to take action when it is safe to do so. The campaign also encourages older people to identify the warning signs of elder abuse and seek support, and is an important reminder that discrimination based on age has no place in our society.

Learn more about the campaign here.

 

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day banner depicting older woman

Stir a cuppa for seniors on elder abuse awareness day

Warm, safe houses, cups of tea, and liberal splashes of the colour purple will all be deployed next week to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on Monday 15 June. In December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly designated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

For some older people, their homes are not safe or warm due to elder abuse within their home.

Elder abuse is exacerbated by a lack of housing or insecure housing.

‘Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health, well-being, independence and human rights of millions of older people around the world,’ said the Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria, Ms Jenny Blakey. ‘It is an issue which deserves the attention of all in the community.’

Most elder abuse occurs within the family or in a domestic setting with the most common form being ‘intergenerational’ which is perpetrated by an adult child against their parent. The most common forms of elder abuse are financial, followed by psychological or social.

This year, WEAAD activities have shifted online. And while the format of many events has changed, the commitment of participants has not dimmed. Next Monday, the City of Melbourne will lead the charge, lighting up the town hall for the evening in purple, the colour associated with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It will also be joined by the City of Monash Town Hall in Glen Waverley.

For a complete listing of WEAAD events, visit the dedicated WEAAD website.

Stir a cuppa for seniors

SRV staff are encouraging people to follow our lead next Monday afternoon (June 15) when we will be holding an online purple tea party called ‘Stir A Cuppa For Seniors’ with seniors and others. We encourage you to host your own purple tea parties and post the pictures on social media with the hashtag #WEAAD. The attached PDF file provides information about how to host your online tea party.

Warm safe home project

The importance of safe, secure accommodation towards reducing elder abuse will be highlighted through on online forum to be held on Thursday 18 June.

Former Aged Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan AO will be the keynote speaker at the Warm Safe Home online forum. Organiser Dr Rebecca Nevin-Berger has spearheaded the Warm Safe Home project for the past year.

The project is encouraging people to decorate handcrafted paper houses with embellishments and words that describe what a warm, safe home means to them.

Registrations are essential for this free webinar. A limited number of places are available for people without internet to access the forum over the phone. To book, email Dr Becky Nevin-Berger or phone 03 5561 8111.

Rod Quantock podcast

Noted Melbourne comedian Rod Quantock will invite his audience to challenge ageist and sexist attitudes in a new podcast launched in conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Monday 15 June.

The podcast features the Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Gerard Mansour, SRV’s own Gary Ferguson and Michelle Lord, Elder Abuse Prevention Network Project Lead – Southern Melbourne Primary Care Partnership. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify or find out more information on Facebook.

MEDIA RELEASE: Seniors Rights Victoria warns on financial abuse of seniors

Media Release | 28 April 2020

Seniors Rights Victoria today warned of the potential increase of elder abuse as a result of the economic and unemployment impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Jenny Blakey, the Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria, said significant economic and emotional pressures on families who did not have funds to pay for their rent, mortgages or regular bills could heighten the risk of elder financial abuse of older people and the broader community.

Ms Blakey said financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of a person’s property, finances and other assets without their informed consent or where consent is obtained by fraud or manipulation. read more

What difference will the new Guardianship and Administration Act make?

The new Guardianship and Administration Act 2019, which came into effect on 1 March 2020, changes the way Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) appoints guardians and administrators for persons with diminished decision-making capacity.

The key changes include:

  • empowering VCAT to appoint supportive decision makers (for personal or financial matters) if the proposed represented person would benefit from assistance in making some types of decisions but they don’t actually need a substitute decision maker
  • read more

    People attending a community education session in the Alpine Shire

    Alpine Health Services drives elder abuse education

    Alpine Health Services, formed in 1996, spans three sites at Myrtleford, Mount Beauty and Bright and is nestled in one of the most picturesque regions in Victoria. Home to some of Australia’s best wine-growing districts and snow country, including Dinner Plain, Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo National Park, the area covers 4,788 square kilometres. In autumn, the area is renowned for its striking autumn colours with many of the trees lining the roads taking centre stage.

    The Alpine Shire is also home to an increasing ageing population with a third of the total population of about 12,000 people (2016 Census) is over 60. Growing older in the area doesn’t mean being idle. Many of the locals are involved in different activities and events, including hiking, volunteering and actively advocating for the rights of older people. read more

    Picture of woman looking at a photograph

    Case study – Guardian and Administration Act

    Donna is 83. Her husband, Kevin, died three years ago. She owns her own home and a holiday house. She receives $90,000 a year from a superannuation fund. Donna worked as a secondary school teacher. In her retirement she has enjoyed activities including golf, bridge, lunch with friends, travel, and gardening.

    Donna has two children, Travis and Christine. When Donna met her solicitor to settle Kevin’s estate she appointed Travis as her attorney for personal and financial matters and as her medical treatment decision maker. read more