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
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
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
a linguistically and culturally appropriate
information pack regarding services, specifically directed at older migrants on
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.
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
The booklet includes information on:
what is elder
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Antonia is in her mid-eighties. She migrated to Australia from Italy in the 1960s. Antonia’s first language is Italian, and she speaks only limited English. She received the equivalent of a grade three education. Antonia’s communication is hampered by a hearing impairment. After Antonia contracts the flu, her doctor places her in hospital.
The treating team speak with Antonia without an interpreter
present and when Antonia does not have her hearing aids in. Consequently, she
feels unsure about what is happening. The treating team interpret Antonia’s
uncertainty as a lack of understanding and arrange for Antonia to be assessed
by the geriatrician.
The assessment is conducted on the ward, whilst Antonia is
still unwell. An Italian interpreter is present but struggles to understand
Antonia’s dialect. The geriatrician uses a set of standard tests which do not
really take into account Antonia’s cultural or educational background. The
geriatrician assesses Antonia as having impaired capacity and the treating team
are concerned about discharging her given that she lives alone.
As a result, the treating team applies to the Guardianship
and Administration list of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
(VCAT). They seek the appointment of a guardian who can make decisions for
Antonia about accommodation and access to services.
The geriatrician uses a set of standard tests which do not really take into account Antonia’s cultural or educational background.
Antonia contacts Seniors Rights Victoria for assistance. By
this time, she is feeling much better and a further specialist assessment is
arranged for her. The assessment is conducted at Antonia’s home while she is
wearing her hearing aids. An Italian interpreter who speaks her dialect is
present and the geriatrician is provided with a full history of Antonia’s
cultural and educational background. Antonia is assessed as having capacity to
make reasonable decisions about financial and personal matters.
When the matter returned to VCAT, the lawyer from Seniors
Rights argues that Antonia was initially
assessed when she was unwell, the interpreter could not understand her well and
there were lots of distractions in the hospital. We said that because of these
factors and other factors she was not able to fully participate in the
The Tribunal Member found that Antonia could make reasonable
decisions and did not appoint a guardian. Antonia is now living happily and
independently at home where she receives help with tasks such as cleaning and