Elder abuse service celebrates the role of peer educators

When Seniors Rights Victoria hosted its 10 year anniversary celebration this year, peer advocate Jennifer Evans (pictured) provided great insight into the strength of this community education approach – when older people share knowledge with older people.

The humble Seniors Rights Victoria volunteer was one of a handful of guest speakers, the others including: Victorian Commissioner for Seniors and Ambassador for Elder Abuse Gerard Mansour; Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Director, Seniors Programs & Participation, Barbara Mountjouris; and Seniors Rights Manager, Jenny Blakey.

Seniors Rights Victoria was celebrating a milestone, a decade of frontline service delivery, which has resulted in:

  • 22,063 calls to the Helpline
  • 4,382 older people receiving personalised assistance through advice and casework
  • 29,182 participants in community education sessions
  • 12,247 participants in professional development sessions
  • Production of nine different information sheets and the booklet, Care for Your Assets: Money, Ageing and Family.

Jennifer stood proudly, sharing her experiences of being a peer educator with Seniors Rights Victoria for more than seven years, a role she said received continual support and ongoing training.

A former social worker and trainer in family welfare and health, Jennifer was a recipient of a Council of the Ageing Senior Achiever Award in 2016 for her voluntary work with SRV, Court Network and local climate action group.

“As older people ourselves, who are conveying our strong passion for justice, it seems that we are accepted and believed more readily,” Jennifer said.

“By us naming what elder abuse is, reinforcing that older people have a right not to be abused or ripped off, and that it is okay to seek assistance, participants do listen. They appear to really appreciate the knowledge we bring and the information we share, and it is very gratifying to have others thank us for doing something that we really enjoy”.

Jennifer said when she first started the talks it was rare for people to have heard the words elder abuse and Seniors Rights Victoria, but that was no longer the case.

“Although there is still a long way to go before we have a world where older people do not experience elder abuse, recognition that help is available is growing in our audiences. Also growing is the number of people who indicate they have appointed powers of attorney for when they can no longer make decisions themselves. And this is a real change,” she said.

“I cannot remember any community group talk where I have not come away feeling I have done something worthwhile and meaningful. I am very grateful that I have been able to play a small part in the challenge we all face in ensuring that in future, all older people can live without fear.”

Seniors Rights Victoria has subsequently released an anniversary brochure celebrating its work from the past 10 years and its future aspirations which it is distributing to all Victorian politicians in the new Parliament. To view the digital version of brochure go to Our Work Makes An Impact.