Conference to showcase Seniors Rights Victoria expertise

Seniors Rights Victoria has been confirmed to do some of the presentations at the 5th National Elder Abuse Conference being held in Sydney early next year.

Seniors Rights Victoria’s Principal Lawyer Rebecca Edwards and Community Lawyer Tabitha O’Shea will present The Gift that Keeps Giving: Evidence and Practice Issues in Bringing Financial Elder Abuse Claims.

The legal team will explain how making a claim based on financial elder abuse is riddled with complexity.  As courts presume that a transfer of property or money from an older person to an adult child is a gift, the burden of proving otherwise falls on the older person.  The presentation address issues of how to prove such a claim and will provide an understanding of working with older persons and the feelings of anger, shame and guilt that may arise when confronting a loved one in an adversarial setting.

Senior Rights Manager Jenny Blakey and Advocate Mandy Walmsley will present Elder Abuse and the Victorian Family Violence Reforms, an overview of the Victorian Family Violence reform agenda and how elder abuse is to be included in initiatives such as the Support and Safety Hubs, risk assessment reform, police response and the Strengthening Hospitals program.

Their presentation will consider the unique aspects of elder abuse that are not being addressed by reforms that are driven by a focus on gender inequity and violence against women and children. These aspects include the need for support and housing for people committing elder abuse, and a consideration of co-dependent intergenerational family relationships. As the reform agenda continues it is important to note the ways elder abuse differs from other forms of family violence. For example, it is more likely to be intergenerational rather than intimate partner violence, and while the majority of people experiencing abuse are women, significant numbers of men also experience abuse. This also leads to a consideration of whether elder abuse prevention currently focuses on protecting and safeguarding older people and overlooks the need for perpetrator behaviour change and accountability, which is a significant focus of the family violence reforms.

The National Elder Abuse Conference is set to attract more than 500 academics and researchers, policy makers and government agencies, public servants, service providers, people with lived experience and community workers who have contact with older people.

The theme for the conference is Together Making Change, with the aim being an inspiring exchange of ideas, experiences and solutions to address elder abuse.

Hosts for the February conference, the NSW-based community legal centre Seniors Rights Services, said the 2018 conference comes at a pivotal moment in terms of Australia’s response to elder abuse, following the release this year of the Australian Law Reform Commission findings from one of Australia’s largest public inquiries into elder abuse.