Category Archives: Legal

Seniors Rights Victoria brings clients’ voices to the aged care and mental health Royal Commissions

Seniors Rights Victoria is drawing on the experiences of clients to make recommendations to current Royal Commissions into aged care quality and safety and Victoria’s mental health system.

Elder abuse service celebrates 10 year milestone

Seniors Rights Victoria, an elder abuse service based on the advocacy-social worker/lawyer model is this year celebrating its 10 year anniversary with a celebration on Thursday 4 October.

Guest speakers will include Victorian Commissioner for Seniors and Ambassador for Elder Abuse Gerard Mansour and Seniors Rights’ peer educator Jennifer Evans.

A visionary Victorian State Government initiative, Seniors Rights Victoria was established by the Victorian Government in 2008 following the review conducted by ex-Senator Barney Cooney. In that year the State Government adopted a state-wide elder abuse strategy – the first state in Australia to do so!

Elder abuse is any act causing harm to an older person by someone they know and trust, such as family and friends.

Now a program of COTA Victoria, Seniors Rights Victoria continues to have a key role in the delivery of the Victorian Government’s Elder Abuse Prevention and Response strategies and initiatives to contribute to the response, prevention and education of elder abuse in Victoria.

In 10 years Seniors Rights Victoria has achieved:

  • 22,063 calls to our Helpline
  • 29,182 participants in community education sessions
  • 12,247 participants in professional development sessions
  • And produced nine different information sheets, and the booklet, Care for Your Assets: Money, Ageing & Family.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence was another significant initiative of the current Government, with the 2016 report and arising family violence reforms clearly identified elder abuse as a form of family violence. The impact has been a growth in awareness of elder abuse and additional older people seeking help.

“We support older people to make positive changes and we learn from them. We also make major contributions to State and Federal government policy and action in this sector,” said Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey.

“We appreciate the respect and positive responses we receive about our service, and from the leadership opportunities to collaborate and share our knowledge.”

Elder abuse service pilots dementia project

Seniors Rights Victoria is pleased to announce it has received funding from the Department of Justice and Regulation to partner with Dementia Australia (DA) for a pilot series of legal information sessions and clinics in Victoria. Advocacy is an integral component of the project to ensure a holistic response to the non-legal needs of participants.

The sessions and clinics combined will enable people who have been recently diagnosed with dementia to plan ahead and to make informed choices about their future financial, health or care arrangements, as well as to put those choices into an appropriate legal format. The pilot project will run for a year.

Seniors Rights Victoria will support delivery of the session on Advanced Care Planning and Powers of Attorney (POAs) within the “Living with Dementia” program and as stand along one-off community education sessions. In addition, Seniors Rights Victoria will provide a number of legal clinics for people who have attended a session to provide one-on-one legal and advocacy consultations.

“This will ensure that legal education and advice is based on therapeutic principles and an empowerment approach for the older person, including the provision of support for non-legal issues facing the individual. It will also allow us to screen for elder abuse,” said Seniors Rights Victoria principal Lawyer Rebecca Edwards.

“We’re really excited to be pioneering this approach in collaboration with Dementia Australia – the link between cognitive impairment and elder abuse is well established,” she said.

Ms Edwards said Australian research estimates that up to 10 per cent of older people experience some form of elder abuse and that the incidence is significantly under-reported (Kaspiew et al 2016). In addition, almost one in 10 people over 65 have dementia (NATSEM 2016). For example, recent research has found elder abuse prevalence rates among guardianship clients of 13 per cent in 2013-14 and 21 per cent in 2016-17 (Bedson et al 2018).

The sessions will start in 2019.

National community legal conference includes elder abuse

Seniors Rights Victoria principal lawyer Rebecca Edwards joined a panel discussion about elder abuse at the National Association of Community Legal Centres conference hosted last month.

Ms Edwards highlighted the story of elder abuse on the frontline, including the benefits of an integrated legal and advocacy social support model, as is used by Seniors Rights Victoria, to assist people experiencing elder abuse.

Other panellists included:

  • Susan Ryan AO, the former Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner who provided a broad national context for elder abuse, including discussing the prevalence of elder abuse, its roots in stereotyping, discrimination and ageism, and an expansive view of Commonwealth actions and opportunities.
  • Russell Westacott, Seniors Rights Service NSW CEO who provided a timeline summary of elder abuse in the national context over the past 10 years, including a discussion of the development of the proposed National Plan, creation of Elder Abuse Action Australia and current funding opportunities.
  • Megan King, a lawyer at Seniors Law, Justice Connect, is based at St Vincent’s hospital in Melbourne. Megan described the three different elder abuse health justice partnerships run by Justice Connect and the differences between them; one in a community health setting, one in an acute hospital setting and one in a sub-acute hospital setting.
  • read more