Category Archives: Newsletters

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
  • read more

    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

    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

    Elder Abuse Prevention Networks Wraps Up

    The Elder Abuse Prevention Networks are continuing to host community level events to provide information about elder abuse and mobilise the community in response.

    Cobar Community Health – a member of the Macedon Ranges Elder Rights Network (one of the elder abuse prevention networks) organised a Know Your Rights Forum in Woodend in November. About 50 people attended and heard from a panel of speakers which included Gerard Mansour, Commissioner for Older Victorians/Ambassador for Elder Abuse Prevention, Seniors Rights Victoria, Elder Rights Advocacy and Victoria Police. Gerard talked about the phases of ageing from retirement through starting to live with more complex issues and the importance of not becoming isolated from broader social support networks.

    Another of the networks, South West Carer & Respite Services Network, is holding a Knitting Ninja’s Morning Tea this month.

    The event, to be hosted by the Warrnambool Mayor Tony Herbert, will highlight the need for all in the community to challenge ageism and say NO to elder abuse. The celebration is the culmination of a yarn bombing project. It represents a true community level approach with participating groups including: Warrnambool Primary School; South West TAFE students; residents of Ingenia Gardens, Lyndoch Living and Heatherlie; and members of Warrnambool Bowls and Lawn Tennis Bowls Clubs, Rotary, Salvation Army and Mpower Warrnambool Carer Support Group. To view a video of the project go to Yarn Bombing.

    The Think Impact action research being conducted as part of the Elder Abuse Prevention Networks and funded by the State Trustees Foundation Australia is almost complete. The research provides insights from more than 70 interviews conducted with community members and professionals about their perceptions of the drivers of elder abuse, activities of the current networks and possible directions for future research. Some of the key societal causes of elder abuse that were cited include: age discrimination, perceived or real diminished capacity of older people, and isolation/lack of connection. The report and a practice guide on primary prevention of elder abuse will be launched by Seniors Rights Victoria in February 2019.

    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.

    Celebrate Ageing director a 2018 Human Rights Medal finalist

    Director of Celebrate Ageing, Dr Catherine Barrett, was named among five finalists for the 2018 Human Rights Medal for her work in supporting older Australians through her enterprise organisation over the past three years, following a nomination from a ‘highly regarded’ colleague.

    Acknowledging the recognition with humility and modesty, Dr Barrett (pictured at right with friends) says as an activist in search of social change, she sees being named a finalist not only an honour but also an opportunity to raise awareness around the human rights of older people.

    “I left my job at La Trobe three years ago to set up Celebrate Ageing as a social enterprise and I can tell you that was scary stuff,” Dr Barrett recalls. “But, now the work that I do makes my heart sing every day and I absolutely love the work that I do.”

    Dr Barrett says she was aware that fellow advocate for older Australians and Seniors Rights Victoria Advocacy Coordinator Philippa Campbell had discussed nominating her for the medal – something she admits ‘moved’ her.

    “I think one of the things for me is feeling moved that she actually nominated me,” Dr Barrett says. “Philippa has herself worked with older people for a long time and has a strong sense of social justice and passion for challenging ageism, so to have a colleague I value so highly nominate me is something very special in itself.”

    Following the recent announcement of the medal finalists, Ms Campbell took to Twitter to congratulate her friend and colleague: “So I nominated Dr Catherine Barrett for an Australian Human Rights medal after watching her work from a distance, realising that she was making such a difference for many people. And here she is – a finalist. Of course she is!” she wrote.

    The winner of the Human Rights Medal will be announced on 14 December 2018.

    More information on the awards and finalists can be found online