The Seniors Rights Victoria legal practice is a community legal service and is part of the Federation of Community Legal Services of Victoria. It provides information and referral, legal advice, legal casework and individual advocacy services. Legal casework can be undertaken by our legal team or lawyers through our partnership with Justice Connect Seniors Law. Lawyers within the partnership offer legal advice on matters specifically related to ageing. We undertake casework for matters involving abuse, exploitation or discrimination of older people.
Justice Connect Seniors Law has health justice partnerships with cohealth, a community health organisation in Footscray, and St Vincent’s Hospital in Fitzroy – funded by Seniors Rights Victoria. The lawyers work with health care teams to identify legal issues for older people and provide more convenient legal assistance and referrals.
The Justice Connect Referral Service also facilitates pro bono referrals, linking individuals experiencing disadvantage and not-for-profit organisations who support them with pro bono lawyers in Victoria and NSW.
Who will Seniors Rights Victoria assist?
Seniors Rights Victoria can provide legal advice, legal casework and advocacy to any Victorian aged 60 and above, or to any Indigenous Victorian aged 45 and above, on matters relating to ageing, and in particular, to elder abuse, mistreatment and neglect.
Seniors Rights Victoria will assist any older Victorian who has the capacity to provide instructions. Seniors Rights Victoria always presumes clients have capacity and are able to make informed decisions, unless demonstrated otherwise. Seniors Rights Victoria sees capacity as being specific to each decision the person has to make, so Seniors Rights Victoria may be able to help an older person even if they have a cognitive impairment or other disability. Having dementia does not necessarily exclude a person from our service.
What type of matters can Seniors Rights Victoria assist with?
Seniors Rights Victoria provides advocacy, legal advice and casework on issues related to ageing, with priority areas being elder abuse and exploitation of older people. SRV can also advise older Victorians on matters relating to
• age discrimination,
• grandparenting rights,
• guardianship and administration,
• family care and ‘granny flat’ arrangements,
• powers of attorney,
• wills and estates.
Seniors Rights Victoria does not draft Wills and Powers of Attorney unless a case is open and a new Will or Power of Attorney is needed to prevent further abuse occurring.
How does Seniors Rights Victoria decide someone is eligible for the service?
No means test is applied, but in deciding whether to provide ongoing casework for a client, Seniors Rights Victoria will look at:
• whether the matter falls within the services guidelines, with elder abuse being a focus area;
• whether the client is experiencing any particular disadvantage or vulnerability;
• whether the client can afford to pay a private lawyer;
• whether other assistance is available, or there is another more appropriate service provider;
• our workload and available expertise.
Seniors Rights Victoria will also consider
• whether the case is in the ‘public interest’ ¬– that is, whether the issue is one that commonly affects Seniors Rights Victoria clients and so pursuing a court decision on the matter is likely to benefit a wider group;
• how the case relates to the systemic advocacy, law reform and education work of the legal service.
Who won’t Seniors Rights Victoria take on as a client?
Seniors Rights Victoria will not provide legal advice, casework or advocacy to any person who is engaged or likely to become engaged in a dispute with an older person.
Seniors Rights Victoria will not act for older people in relation to primary matters about:
• consumer issues
• complaints about residential care services or retirement villages
• neighbourhood disputes
• divorce and division of marital/partner property
• social security and veteran’s affairs
• criminal law
• infringement matters.