Category Archives: family violence

Picture of service providers at the launch of Concerned About an Older Person in Colac

Commissioner launches resource booklet

A booklet that provides practical steps to reduce elder abuse was launched recently by the Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Gerard Mansour.

More than 50 people attended the launch of Concerned About an Older Person in late November at the Colac Bowling Club.

The bookletwill be distributed to people who call the Seniors Rights Victoria helpline. ‘Half the people who call the helpline are concerned about someone they know,’ said Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey.

‘A quarter of callers are service providers, and the rest are experiencing elder abuse from a family member or some other person who is close to them. read more

Picture of a gavel on top of a Family Law book

Seniors Rights Victoria voices opposition to court merger

Seniors Rights Victoria has joined a coalition of more than 60 legal organisations opposing a proposal to merge the specialist Family Court of Australia with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

A letter to the federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, co-signed by Seniors Rights Victoria’s Principal Lawyer, Rebecca Edwards, said that greater not less specialisation in family law and family violence was needed.

A report by the Australian Law Reform Commission Report, released in April 2019, said that increasingly family law cases involve allegations of violence, child abuse and other risk factors.  read more

Picture of the Compass website

Website to provide better access to services

Greater awareness and better access to services are the aims of a new website launched last month to tackle elder abuse.

Compass was funded by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department and developed by Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA).

‘The conversation about the abuse of older people needs to be treated as a priority,’ said Diedre Timms and Russell Westacott, the Co-Chairs of EAAA.

The site was a priority of the National Plan to respond to the Abuse of Older Australians 2019-2023, which was launched by Attorney-General Christian Porter in March 2019.

The EAAA Co-Chairs said that more content and resources would progressively be added to the site.

Jenny Blakey, Manager, Seniors Rights Victoria, is a board director of EAAA. read more

Towards a family violence service system where everybody matters

Historically, family violence services have been under-resourced and poorly placed to respond to marginalised communities. Faced with extra barriers to getting help, people from diverse communities have often been placed at greater risk of family violence.

New report card on Victoria’s progress towards family violence system reform

As part of its reform package following the watershed 2016 report of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the Victorian Government established the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor, a role responsible for holding the government and its agencies to account for implementation of statewide family violence reform.

New Concerned Family and Friend Project in 2019

In 2016/17, nearly half of the telephone calls received on the Helpline of Seniors Rights Victoria were from a concerned family member or friend of the older person being abused.

The advocates working at Seniors Rights Victoria offer information and assistance to these callers, who can often be distressed. Seniors Rights Victoria currently has a Help Sheet which contains suggestions about what to do in these situations. This includes tips for the concerned family member or friend on listening to the older person with an open mind, letting them know help is available and encouraging and supporting the older person to contact Seniors Rights Victoria.

Seniors Rights Victoria frequently works with the older person and a supportive family member together to tackle their problems. From this work with concerned family and friends, Seniors Rights Victoria is aware that more support is needed.

To meet this need, Seniors Rights Victoria will next year extend their assistance for concerned family members and friends of older people experiencing abuse through a project that will produce a more comprehensive booklet. This booklet will be developed in consultation with people who can provide input into the topics and content. It will contain information on supporting the older person being abused and referral to appropriate services. The booklet is another way of achieving the commitment of Seniors Rights Victoria preventing elder abuse in the community and supporting those being abused and mistreated.

Helpline case study: concerned daughter calls SRV

Seniors Rights Victoria receives about 3500 calls annually on our Helpline.  Callers include older people who are being abused, service providers and concerned others.  Although Seniors Rights Victoria’s legal service can only represent older people directly, our Helpline Advocate will try to assist all callers to get the assistance they need.

The following case study shows how we try to help people who are worried about an older person who they are close to.

Candice* called the Helpline regarding her mother, Betty, who is 85 years old and lives in her own home.  Candice’s brother Bruce has been living with Betty on and off all his life.  He has a history of mental illness and drug addiction. Candice told the helpline advocate that Bruce is not paying his way and treats her mother poorly, but that Betty is too scared to do anything about it.  Candice doesn’t think her mother will call Seniors Rights Victoria to discuss the situation.

The Helpline advocate listens to Candice’s concerns.  The advocate explains Seniors Rights Victoria’s role and discusses strategies for Candice to encourage Betty to make contact through the Helpline.

“We also tell her to tell her mother that we are a free and confidential service and that we will not make her mother do anything she doesn’t want to do,” said Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey. 

If Betty is willing to participate in an advice call, one of SRV’s lawyers can provide her with legal advice about her legal options, and an Advocate will be able to talk to Betty about supports available to her – and even to Bruce, if he will accept them.

The Helpline Advocate will also talk directly to Candice about what some of those supports may be in case Betty doesn’t want to talk with one of Senior Rights Victoria’s lawyers or advocates.

A few weeks later Candice calls with Betty on the line and introduces her to the Advocate who explains SRV service.  After some discussion and reassurance, Betty agrees to an appointment with a lawyer and advocate.  We take some details from Betty and make a time to call her back when it suits her and when she is in a place where she feels safe. 

“We explain that we will need to talk to Betty on her own (without Candice present) to ensure that she isn’t being unduly influenced by Candice, but, with Betty’s consent, we can talk with Candice after we speak with Betty,” Ms Blakey said. “This process supports our service’s primary ethos which is to empower and advocate on behalf of the older person.”

*Names have been changed to maintain privacy and protect the confidentiality of our clients.

Intergenerational video shines light on elder abuse

Children from The Patch Primary School and a Positive Ageing Reference Group from Yarra Ranges Council will be acknowledged for a wonderful intergenerational video collaboration at Senior Rights Victoria’s 10th anniversary celebration.

The Yarra Ranges Council project was released for this year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in June. The video features poems written and spoken by the reference group members, about the isolation and negativity people feel while experiencing elder abuse.

Earlier this year, students read these poems and discussed the issue in a workshop, before drawing specific parts of the poems. These drawings were then animated by local animator, Al MacInnes.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Councillor Len Cox, said he hoped the video would help to raise awareness of abuse in the community.

“Elder abuse is a serious issue, and it comes in many forms, from physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual abuse, and it can include mistreatment and neglect,” Cr Cox said.

“This abuse is often carried out by people the victims know and trust, such as family members and friends, and victims rarely speak out.

“Abuse is never okay, and we cannot let this continue to happen to our vulnerable older adults in the community.

Here The Patch Primary School clip.