Author Archives: amanda kunkler

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

    Planning project continues with Dementia Australia

    In 2020, using the second round of funding from the Department of Justice’s Integrated Services Fund, Seniors Rights Victoria will deliver talks to around 30 groups of older people around the importance of planning for the future.

    Most of these presentations will be for people living with dementia and their carers and families, while others will be to people from particular culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) groups. The focus this year will be on working with people from Chinese, Greek and Vietnamese backgrounds. read more

    Andelka Obradovic

    Introducing Community Lawyer Andelka Obradovic

    How long have you been with Seniors Rights Victoria?

    Since 10 February 2020, so seven and a half weeks.

    Have your impressions of SRV changed since you began?

    I didn’t have any preconceptions. I anticipated it would have been a compassionate and proactive workplace in regards to the protection of seniors’ rights and that has been confirmed. I still have a lot to learn and feel very fortunate to be in a very supportive team. Despite still being a fairly junior lawyer I have found the transition to the new practice areas and workplace pretty seamless.

    How long have you been a community lawyer ?

    I have been a community lawyer for 14 months. Before that I had volunteered in community legal centres during and post studying law. My attraction to community law is the people that tend to work in this sphere and the difference we can make for vulnerable individuals. The people that tend to work in community law are compassionate and socially minded, which is the type of people I prefer to surround myself with. read more

    Person signing a legal document

    Power of Attorney register progresses

    In early March, Seniors Rights Victoria’s Principal Lawyer, Rebecca Edwards, took part in in a consultation in Canberra about the establishment of a national register of powers of attorney (POA) .

    The Council of Attorneys-General is moving to establish a register as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2017 Report on Elder Abuse.

    All states and territories were represented at the consultation including state justice departments, public advocates, tribunals, banks, law societies, elder abuse legal centres like Seniors Rights Victoria, Councils on the Ageing, and older persons advocacy networks. read more

    Safeguarding the rights of older people forum

    Sunbury community partners are hosting a community information session about  safeguarding the rights, dignity and independence of older people on Tuesday, October 30, from 2-3:30pm.

    The free session will be held at the Sunbury Senior Citizens Club. It will focus on elder abuse and be presented by Gary Ferguson from Seniors Rights Victoria.

    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.

    This event has been organised by the valuable community partnership between: Sunbury Police Community Register, Sunbury U3A, HeartBeat Victoria Sunbury Branch, Sunbury Community Health, Merri Health and Seniors Rights Victoria.

    A healthy afternoon tea provided. For more information please leave a phone message at Sunbury Police Community Register on 9744 8165, or to register your attendance go to Eventbrite.

    For more information download the pdf Final Elder Abuse Flyer

     

    Legal Matters & Ageing Forum

    Take the chance to ask the experts about some of the most common legal issues affecting older people at this free community event being hosted on Tuesday, 16 October, at Safety Beach Community Centre, from 10:30am-1pm.

    Topics to be covered include: medical decision-making law and recent changes, retirement villages, aged care, wills and elder abuse.

    Guest speakers are:
    John Corcoran AM, Russell Kennedy Lawyers;
    Gary Ferguson, Seniors Rights Victoria;
    William Betts, Peninsula Community Legal Centre.

    There will be a Q&A session, with morning tea to be provided. For more information and bookings phone 97833600 or book (no charge) via Eventbrite.

    For more information download the pdf Legal Matters & Ageing Forum

    Share your views on elder abuse

    Seniors Rights Victoria is supporting the Elder Abuse Prevention Networks project across the state by assisting the implementation of a community survey about elder abuse.

    A Victorian Government funded project, the Elder Abuse Prevention Network (EAPN) will operate at 10 sites in regional, outer urban and metropolitan areas at an individual and community level, to raise awareness and educate communities about the rights of older people.

    Senior Rights Victoria EAPN Project Officer Alexia Huxley said seven sites have been chosen for the networks. They are being run by different organisations including several community health services, a community legal centre and local councils.

    The confidential community survey is being conducted by independent consultants Think Impact with the results to be provided to the organisations participating in the prevention work, and included in a guide to prevent elder abuse. No individuals will be identified in these documents.

    The short survey is voluntary, with participants not asked to provide any personal information.

    “We understand that some people may find this topic difficult. If they do not wish to answer any questions, they are welcome to leave questions blank,” Ms Huxley said.

    She said the community was gradually becoming more aware about the mixture of factors causing elder abuse, including lack of respect and valuing of older people, negative media messages that portray older people as a drain on society and behaviour that overlooks or justifies elder abuse.

    “These attitudes can be internalised by older people themselves who may also consider that family matters are private and should not be shared, or may feel ashamed of the behaviour of their adult children and not want to ask for assistance,” Ms Huxley said.

    In an effort to address some of these issues, the networks are targeting older people’s organisations as well as service agencies, including influential community members – such as pharmacists, librarians and religious leaders – who come into contact with older people and encourage them to see eliminating elder abuse as a matter of social justice.

    If this survey raises questions or causes any distress, or you would like to discuss an incident of elder abuse, please contact the free, confidential Helpline of Seniors Rights Victoria: 1300 368 821. If you need help immediately call Lifeline on 131114.