Category Archives: Legal

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
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    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

    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

    Rose and Elsa logos

    Legal centre starts new response services

    The Eastern Community Centre (ECLC) recently commenced two new elder abuse response services, ROSE (Rights of Seniors in the East) and ELSA (Engaging & Living Safely & Autonomously). The services are part of the Commonwealth Attorney-General Department’s National Elder Abuse Service Trials (2019-22) and add to ECLC existing elder abuse work, particularly in primary prevention.

    ROSE (Rights of Seniors) provides an integrated, multi-disciplinary service for seniors at risk of or experiencing abuse (physical, psychological/emotional, financial, sexual or neglect) from a person in a position of trust. The ROSE Community Lawyer, Advocate and Financial Counsellor work together to provide advice, ongoing case management support and referrals based on the client’s wishes and needs. read more

    Picture of a person signing a document

    Attorneys-General commit to powers-of-attorney register

    The Council of Attorneys-General has committed to establish a national online register of enduring powers of attorney (POA).

    The Council, which is composed of all state and territory Attorneys-General and the federal Attorney-General, said in late November the register would be part of a staged approach to enduring power of attorney reform for financial decisions.

    With a register, third parties, such as banks and financial institutions, can quickly and easily verify that a POA is current and valid. This is a significant step in preventing a POA being used as an instrument of financial abuse.

    The register is one step towards greater harmonisation of POAs across Australia. This would include a single, uniform form across all Australian jurisdictions. The single form would facilitate increased familiarity and understanding among all parties (particularly third parties) of the nature and scope of POAs, allowing them to more easily identify who can do what, and when. read more

    Picture of a sign outside a hospital

    Cultural factors must be considered when assessing capacity

    Antonia is in her mid-eighties. She migrated to Australia from Italy in the 1960s. Antonia’s first language is Italian, and she speaks only limited English. She received the equivalent of a grade three education. Antonia’s communication is hampered by a hearing impairment. After Antonia contracts the flu, her doctor places her in hospital.

    The treating team speak with Antonia without an interpreter present and when Antonia does not have her hearing aids in. Consequently, she feels unsure about what is happening. The treating team interpret Antonia’s uncertainty as a lack of understanding and arrange for Antonia to be assessed by the geriatrician. read more