The historic Bendigo Post Office joined in this year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day activities, taking on a magnificent purple hue. The town’s iconic tram also played a part, displaying the message: My World – Your World – Our World – Free of Elder Abuse. Other activites included a special Morning Tea to celebrate and share information about a new partnership between Seniors Rights Victoria and the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.
“Going like hotcakes” is the best way to describe the enthusiastic reception given to the 2013 Legal Topics for Older People Diary. Launched by Noeline Brown, Australia’s Ambassador for Ageing (pictured with Senors Rights Victoria’s Gary Ferguson), at the COTA Victoria Volunteer Luncheon in November, it took just ten days to distribute all 8, 500 copies from the first batch printed. A second batch was delivered almost hot off the presses.
Produced by Seniors Rights Victoria and Seniors Information Victoria with funding from the Victoria Law Foundation and the Department of Health, the diary was distributed free to older Victorians. As well as being attractive and useful for recording appointments and special events, the diary contains information on an array of legal topics including wills, elder abuse, pensions and consumer issues.
Bendigo Town Hall provided a grand backdrop for the celebrations to launch Seniors Rights Victoria’s newest publication. Care for Your Assets: Money, Ageing & Family is a booklet for older people who may be considering moving in with family members.
Karen Toohey, Acting Commissioner of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (pictured), launched the booklet, which she described as an incredibly helpful resource for older people and their families. She said that elder abuse and ageism are important human rights issues and that the Commission is undertaking ongoing work consulting with older people and addressing age-related discrimination.
Seniors Rights Victoria has secured funding from the Victoria Law Foundation to produce a pamphlet for older Aboriginal people. It is currently being developed in collaboration with Gunditjamara Aboriginal Cooperative and will be available in May. Contact us to order copies.
For more information about elder abuse in Indigenous communities see ‘Family Violence Against Aunties and Uncles’ in the December 2012 edition of the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria newsletter (pp 6-7)
If you are a community health worker concerned about an older client who is being abused or exploited financially by someone close to them, there may be a seniors legal clinic right on your doorstep that can help.
Caseworkers at Western Region Health Centre have been making good use of the Seniors Rights clinic at WRHC’s Nicholson St premises in Footscray, according to Matthew Bridges, a lawyer at the clinic. Many of his clients have been referred into the service by Health Centre workers, although older people from the local area also visit the service without prior referral. Other agencies in Footscray have begun referring their clients to the legal clinic as well.
Seniors Rights Victoria receives many requests from community and seniors groups for talks about elder abuse, and about what older people can do to combat abuse or lessen the risk of experiencing it themselves. Over a year ago, we began involving older volunteers in our community education program as public speakers.
We currently have 13 volunteer public speakers, and around 25 altogether have been involved in the program to date. Many of our speakers have been drawn to the role because they are interested in and understand the issues people face as they age.
Grandparents depend on the co-operation of their adult children, and sometimes of their former partners as well, to be able to see their grandchildren. What happens when relationships between older people and their adult children break down, or become abusive? Do grandparents have a right to spend time with their grandchildren?
When a child’s parents separate, or when the parent who lives with the child forms a new relationship and moves away, the child’s relationship with their grandparents can be disrupted. They may see each other much less often, or not at all. In some cases of financial abuse of older people, a threat to withdraw access to grandchildren is used as a lever to get money from elderly parents.
A real strength of Seniors Rights Victoria is that we are a combined legal and advocacy service, employing both lawyers and advocates to work with our clients. So what do we mean by advocacy? And what do SRV advocates do?
The Advocacy Charter, developed by Action for Advocacy in the UK in 2002, defines advocacy as ‘taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain services that they need. Advocates work in partnership with the people they support and take their side. Advocacy promotes social inclusion, equality and social justice’.
Family violence and domestic violence – chances are these words make us think of women and children escaping from violent or abusive partners. We don’t immediately associate elder abuse with family violence, and yet it fits completely within the accepted definition.
The Family Violence Act 2008 defines family violence as behaviour towards a family member that is physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically or economically abusive; or is threatening or coercive; or in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes them to feel fear for their safety or wellbeing or for that of another person.