Are you an older adult in the Frankston or Mornington Peninsula area? Do you enjoy talking to people and want to make a difference in your community? Elder abuse is hidden in our community – you could help people understand it and talk about it. Join the Conversation Seeds training program to help you to find the words to start conversations and help others.
** Important date change **
The training program is held over two Wednesdays:
- 11 March, 10 am – 1.30 pm
- 18 March, 10 am – 1.30 pm
Mornington Community Information and Support Centre,
320 Main Street, Mornington
Register and more information
A Seniors Rights Victoria scoping project is calling for more culturally appropriate information about support services for older migrants who might be experiencing elder abuse.
Carmela Quimbo, a social work student on an extended placement at Seniors Rights Victoria, recently undertook a study into elder abuse and its relation to Contributory Parent visas. This topic was chosen because Seniors Rights Victoria’s casework team had been receiving more inquiries from older people living in Australia on Contributory Parent visas. Older people who migrate to Australia, often to assist with care for their grandchildren, may find themselves without access to Centrelink payments and health and social services if they are subject to elder abuse.
Contributory Parent visas usually require adult children to provide a legally binding agreement, called an Assurance of Support, to financially support their parent for up to 10 years.
The Assurance of Support means that if a person on a Parent Visa needs to access social security within the 10 years, this will ultimately be paid for by the adult child.
The scoping project interviewed service providers who told us that older migrants:
- may not seek assistance due to different understandings of what constitutes abusive behaviour
- may be less familiar with Australia’s social security system and other social services, which may be due to language and cultural differences
- may be conflicted about reporting elder abuse due to loyalty to their children, a wish to avoid further deterioration of relationships, and the stigma around family breakdown.
Seniors Rights Victoria suggests that these barriers could be addressed by:
- a linguistically and culturally appropriate information pack regarding services, specifically directed at older migrants on Parent visas
- the provision of education and planning programmes for prospective older migrants and their families focusing on Australia’s social security system, financial protection and preparation for potential problems, especially family conflict
- early intervention for family conflict, including, if suitable and available, mediation
- Centrelink information sessions on the effects of Assurances of Support and eligibility for Special Benefit.
A booklet that provides practical steps to reduce elder abuse was launched recently by the Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Gerard Mansour.
More than 50 people attended the launch of Concerned About an Older Person in late November at the Colac Bowling Club.
The booklet will be distributed to people who call the Seniors Rights Victoria helpline. ‘Half the people who call the helpline are concerned about someone they know,’ said Seniors Rights Victoria Manager Jenny Blakey.
‘A quarter of callers are service providers, and the rest are experiencing elder abuse from a family member or some other person who is close to them.
The booklet includes information on:
- what is elder abuse
- signs that someone may be experiencing elder abuse
- what you can do if someone you know is experiencing elder abuse
- preparing a plan to ensure the person is safe
- answers to common questions, including if the older person does not want to involve services or the police
- what to do if the person is from a diverse community including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally and linguistically diverse, LGBTIQA+ or from a rural area.
Seniors Rights Victoria has joined a coalition of more than 60 legal organisations opposing a proposal to merge the specialist Family Court of Australia with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
A letter to the federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, co-signed by Seniors Rights Victoria’s Principal Lawyer, Rebecca Edwards, said that greater not less specialisation in family law and family violence was needed.
A report by the Australian Law Reform Commission Report, released in April 2019, said that increasingly family law cases involve allegations of violence, child abuse and other risk factors.
‘Children and adults who have experienced family violence require a specialist forum to deal with family law matters involving family violence and this forum is the Family Court of Australia,’ Ms Edwards said.
A bill to merge the two courts was introduced into federal Parliament in early December.
To read the letter click here.
More than 70 per cent of clients who received legal and advocacy services from Seniors Rights Victoria in the 2019-19 were women. While any older person can experience elder abuse, a person’s gender or sexual identity and related sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia may exacerbate their experience of violence.
The most prevalent issue was financial abuse, which was raised by 41 per cent of the 3572 callers to the Seniors Rights Victoria helpline – 1300 368 821.
Find out more information about the activities of Seniors Rights Victoria during the 2018-19 financial year in the COTA Victoria Review |2018 – 2019. Seniors Rights Victoria is a program of the Council on the Ageing Victoria.
This week is Human Rights Week. It is an important reminder that each us has a part to play in ensuring the principles of freedom, respect, equality and dignity are alive in our communities, workplaces and among friends and families.
Tuesday, 10 December, was International Human Rights Day. This marks the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.
At Seniors Rights Victoria, we work from an empowerment or human rights model, whereby we seek to support and empower the older person to maintain their right to self-determination. Our service is older person focused and our aim is to support the older person by providing them with information, advice and support. We try and avoid overly paternalistic approaches which seek to promote a ‘best interest’ view without regard to the wishes and preferences of the older person.
A ‘best interests’ approach can sometimes permeate family discussions as parents age and family member, often out of concern, take a more protective approach to decision making. Sometimes this can lead to an eroding of the older person’s right to self-determination and ultimately their exclusion from the decision-making process.
To avoid eroding a person’s right to make their own decisions or at least be involved in the decision making process it is important for the older person to have frank and open discussions with their family about their preferences and to also think carefully about who they appoint as a substitute decision maker.
The older person should ask themselves: is this person aware of my values, wills and preferences? Can I trust this person to make the decision I would otherwise make for myself? Will this person involve me in the decision-making process? Does this person understand the role and the authority I have donated to them?
The Eastern Community Centre (ECLC) recently commenced two new elder abuse response services, ROSE (Rights of Seniors in the East) and ELSA (Engaging & Living Safely & Autonomously). The services are part of the Commonwealth Attorney-General Department’s National Elder Abuse Service Trials (2019-22) and add to ECLC existing elder abuse work, particularly in primary prevention.
ROSE (Rights of Seniors) provides an integrated, multi-disciplinary service for seniors at risk of or experiencing abuse (physical, psychological/emotional, financial, sexual or neglect) from a person in a position of trust. The ROSE Community Lawyer, Advocate and Financial Counsellor work together to provide advice, ongoing case management support and referrals based on the client’s wishes and needs.
ROSE is based in ECLC’s Boronia office with travel to other ECLC and partner offices, and outreach to clients with mobility and other challenges subject to a risk assessment.
Seniors living, working or studying in the Eastern Metropolitan Region can contact ROSE directly. Workers can also contact ROSE for secondary consultations and to discuss and/or request a referral form. For ROSE, please call 0429 697 960 or email ROSE@eclc.org.au.
ELSA (Engaging & Living Safely & Autonomously) provides a holistic service for seniors who are Eastern Health patients and at risk of or experiencing abuse (physical, psychological/emotional, financial, sexual or neglect) from a person in a position of trust.
Based on preliminary research, hospital staff are well-placed to identify elder abuse at the earliest stages as older people are more likely to disclose to health staff than others. A Community Lawyer and Financial Counsellor, in collaboration with hospital staff, provide an early intervention, integrated legal and financial information and support services in the health setting and provide referrals for post-discharge support.
The team is based at Eastern Health sites, commencing in at Peter James Centre, Burwood.
Patients can contact ELSA directly. Eastern Health workers can also contact ELSA for secondary consultations and to discuss and/or request a referral form. ELSA can be contacted on 0429 697 960 or at ELSA@eclc.org.au.
The OPERA Project (Older People Equity & Respect) will be launching its consultation report findings and digital interventions on Friday 13 December at Hoyts Cinemas in Eastland Shopping Centre, Ringwood. The OPERA Project explores the experiences of ageism for older people living in Melbourne’s east, using co-design digital storytelling to highlight and challenge negative attitudes that can lead to ageist behaviour. Bookings are essential, book here.
Greater awareness and better access to services are the aims of a new website launched last month to tackle elder abuse.
Compass was funded by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department and developed by Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA).
‘The conversation about the abuse of older people needs to be treated as a priority,’ said Diedre Timms and Russell Westacott, the Co-Chairs of EAAA.
The site was a priority of the National Plan to respond to the Abuse of Older Australians 2019-2023, which was launched by Attorney-General Christian Porter in March 2019.
The EAAA Co-Chairs said that more content and resources would progressively be added to the site.
Jenny Blakey, Manager, Seniors Rights Victoria, is a board director of EAAA.
The Council of Attorneys-General has committed to establish a national online register of enduring powers of attorney (POA).
The Council, which is composed of all state and territory Attorneys-General and the federal Attorney-General, said in late November the register would be part of a staged approach to enduring power of attorney reform for financial decisions.
With a register, third parties, such as banks and financial institutions, can quickly and easily verify that a POA is current and valid. This is a significant step in preventing a POA being used as an instrument of financial abuse.
The register is one step towards greater harmonisation of POAs across Australia. This would include a single, uniform form across all Australian jurisdictions. The single form would facilitate increased familiarity and understanding among all parties (particularly third parties) of the nature and scope of POAs, allowing them to more easily identify who can do what, and when.