Our submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence

Seniors Rights Victoria has made a submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. See SRV’s submission to the RCFV or a short and comprehensive summary of the submission.

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The purpose of Seniors Rights Victoria’s submission is to give voices to the many victims of elder abuse in families, to inform the Royal Commission about what is being done both here and overseas and to suggest what more we should do in Victoria as a responsible and caring society intent on minimising violence in all its manifestations.

“Elder abuse is family violence when it occurs within the context of a family relationship… A recent analysis of SRV’s Helpline data for a two year period showed that over 90% of alleged perpetrators were related to the older person, or in a de facto relationship, with two thirds of abuse being perpetrated by a son or daughter of the older person.”

In the submission, Seniors Rights Victoria highlights the unique experience of older victims of family violence and identifies a long list of potential barriers limiting their access to justice and services:

  • Inadequate societal recognition of elder abuse
  • Ageism and ageist attitudes
  • Generational expectations
  • Gender inequality
  • Diminished physical or mental health
  • Feelings of responsibility towards adult children as a parent, guilt and shame
  • Overwhelming desire to preserve relationships at great individual cost
  • Reliance on abuser for care
  • Cultural framework
  • Language difficulties

To counteract some of these barriers, Seniors Rights Victoria makes a number of recommendations including:

  • Prioritising awareness-raising, education and professional training about elder abuse – what it is, how to recognise the signs and what do about it
  • Empowering older people to plan for their future and retain control of their finances as they age
  • Improving the ability of Victoria Police to respond to cases of elder abuse including a focus on policing and enforcement of financial abuse
  • Ensuring lawyers do not unwittingly facilitate financial exploitation when acting for adult children in property and other legal transactions involving older parents
  • Filling the ‘investigations gap’ so that suspected abuse does not remain hidden – especially to uncover situations of neglect
  • Improving court processes – particularly in relation to family violence intervention orders
  • Addressing the housing shortage – emergency and long term – for both victims and perpetrators of abuse
  • Substantial government investment to comprehensively tackle abuse of older Indigenous Victorians

Seniors Rights Victoria will continue to engage with the Royal Commission over the coming months to shine a spotlight on the societal damage caused by elder abuse, to represent the rights and interests of older people and to make Victoria safer for all seniors.

Organisations endorsing our submission