For this year’s WEAAD, Seniors Rights Victoria asked two former clients, Maria* (pictured) and Meg* to share their stories about elder abuse within their families. It was hard for both Victorian women to speak about their experiences, but then neither want any family to endure what they have. Elder abuse is not a happy story, but changes can be made.
Maria’s issues began after she took in her adult son to help him through difficult personal and financial times. Despite positive beginnings, things quickly soured. Arguments ensued around Maria’s son using her credit card without paying her back, refusing to contribute to household expenses, stealing $8000 worth of stamps from a collection and finally, making physical threats on her life.
The police were unable to help so Maria reached out to Seniors Rights Victoria. Seniors Rights Victoria’s Principal Lawyer Rebecca Edwards and Social Advocate Jane Eeles accepted Maria’s case and worked with her through the court system to have her son removed from the house with an intervention order. In addition to supporting her through the stressful court process, Jane re-connected Maria with community social activities to combat isolation.
Seniors Rights Victoria is the key state-wide service dedicated to stopping elder abuse. It is a program of Council on The Ageing (COTA), supported by the Victorian Government. Operating under the principal of empowering older people, Seniors Rights Victoria provides information, support, advice, casework and education to help prevent and respond to elder abuse through its Helpline which received 3300 calls last year, a 25 per cent increase on the previous year.
Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey said there was a growing acknowledgement of elder abuse as a form of family violence but still a disconnect when it came to the highest incidence of abuse – financial – which accounts for 75 per cent of their abuse cases, including the circumstances for both Maria and Meg.
Please note the personal details for Maria* and Meg* were changed to protect their privacy.