Case study: Psychological abuse – social isolation

Seniors Rights 9George


Penny calls about her father George.  She states her brother recently moved into her father’s house. Her brother has schizophrenia and is not taking his medication. He is also in receipt of the carer’s payment but is not looking after her father at all.  Penny claims her father is scared of her brother and can’t stand up for himself.

She states her father has major health complications but does not have a cognitive impairment, and he has a Community Aged Care Package (CACP). Her brother won’t let Penny or any service provider under the CACP into the house. Penny states her brother has been socially isolating her father for some time now. Her father’s friends do not visit him anymore and her father never leaves the house. Every time Penny calls to speak to her father, her brother answers and hangs up. Penny is scared of her brother as he has a bad temper and can be violent at times. She is very concerned about her father. Penny wants advice.

Action & outcome

Seniors Rights Victoria informs Penny that this is quite a common complaint but that unfortunately Seniors Rights Victoria cannot go to the house to investigate: there is no mandatory reporting of elder abuse in the community in Australia.

Seniors Rights Victoria clarifies whether Penny’s father has any issues around his capacity as this will inform the advice provided. Penny confirms that her father is still very lucid.

Seniors Rights Victoria recommends that Penny inform her father’s CACP caseworker about what is happening and highlight her concerns about her father’s health needs and safety. The CACP provider should take all reasonable steps to ensure that her father is safe and that his care needs are being met. Seniors Rights Victoria suggests that her father’s caseworker contact the local police station and ask the police to do a welfare check, making reference to their “You are not alone campaign”.

Seniors Rights Victoria also raises the possibility of her father’s caseworker applying to VCAT for a direction from the Tribunal to have the Office of the Public Advocate enter the property with the caseworker and the police, so that the caseworker can carry out the service.

Seniors Rights Victoria sends information out to Penny about its service and informs Penny that Seniors Rights Victoria is happy to meet with her father and to give him advice and possibly ongoing assistance for his situation. Seniors Rights Victoria also raises the issue of possible financial abuse which may need to be investigated down the track.