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Call for culturally appropriate material for older migrants

A Seniors Rights Victoria scoping project is calling for more culturally appropriate information about support services for older migrants who might be experiencing elder abuse.

Carmela Quimbo, a social work student on an extended placement at Seniors Rights Victoria, recently undertook a study into elder abuse and its relation to Contributory Parent visas. This topic was chosen because Seniors Rights Victoria’s casework team had been receiving more inquiries from older people living in Australia on Contributory Parent visas. Older people who migrate to Australia, often to assist with care for their grandchildren, may find themselves without access to Centrelink payments and health and social services if they are subject to elder abuse.

Contributory Parent visas usually require adult children to provide a legally binding agreement, called an Assurance of Support, to financially support their parent for up to 10 years.

The Assurance of Support means that if a person on a Parent Visa needs to access social security within the 10 years, this will ultimately be paid for by the adult child.

The scoping project interviewed service providers who told us that older migrants:

  • may not seek assistance due to different understandings of what constitutes abusive behaviour
  • may be less familiar with Australia’s social security system and other social services, which may be due to language and cultural differences
  • may be conflicted about reporting elder abuse due to loyalty to their children, a wish to avoid further deterioration of relationships, and the stigma around family breakdown.

Seniors Rights Victoria suggests that these barriers could be addressed by:

  • a linguistically and culturally appropriate information pack regarding services, specifically directed at older migrants on Parent visas
  • the provision of education and planning programmes for prospective older migrants and their families focusing on Australia’s social security system, financial protection and preparation for potential problems, especially family conflict
  • early intervention for family conflict, including, if suitable and available, mediation
  • Centrelink information sessions on the effects of Assurances of Support and eligibility for Special Benefit.