From:                              Seniors Rights Victoria <> on behalf of Seniors Rights Victoria <>

Sent:                               Thursday, 27 October 2016 10:05 AM

To:                                   Caitlin Evans

Subject:                          E-newsletter November 2016 - Preview


No. 23 November 2016

The weather may be variable but Spring is here! In line with the new beginnings it traditionally brings, we’d like to introduce our new design and also welcome our new subscribers. It is an optimistic time for the elder abuse sector with the past year bringing many efforts to work nationally, major elder abuse inquiries at both the state and federal level, and an election commitment by the Coalition government to a National Elder Abuse Plan. Please connect with us on social media and read on for news of what Seniors Rights Victoria, and our partners, have been doing.

People aged 50+ are  invited to complete a survey by November 30th for the chance to win an iPad or a $500 voucher. COTA Vic, our parent body, want to know what matters to older Victorians, so it can better represent them.


Annual Report and Snapshot - 2015/16

Seniors Rights Victoria’s annual report is out, and with it our first ever Snapshot of our achievements in 2015-16. Amongst other initiatives, we:

• Hosted the very successful 4th National Elder Abuse Conference, which included noteworthy local and international speakers and 345 delegates

• Led the organisation of a bigger and better Victorian World Elder Abuse Awareness Day than ever before

• Established the Elder Abuse Roundtable of experts, to be a voice for people who experience elder abuse and advocate for change

• Increased our media profile, with a total of 68 stories - up from 42 stories in 2014-15 and 14 in 2012-14

• Achieved a reported satisfaction rate of between 90% and 100% for our entire education program (delivered to well over 3000 people)

• Supported the establishment of a Health Justice Partnership service for older people at St Vincent’s Hospital with Justice Connect Seniors Law

• Received 2696 calls on our Helpline, provided 3429 instances of information, 631 advices (legal and advocacy), 144 secondary consultations to other organisations, and opened a total of 156 new cases

• Launched, in partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), The Older Person’s Experience – Outcomes of Interventions into Elder Abuse. This research, containing recommendations, is the only Australian study we know of that looks at elder abuse from older peoples’ perspective.


ALRC Inquiry into Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a “symptom of attitudes which fail to respect and recognise the rights of older Australian to make decisions, to live self-determined lives, to live with dignity and live free from exploitation, violence and abuse” - the Hon Senator George Brandis QC, Attorney General.

In February 2016, Seniors Rights Victoria hosted the 4th National Elder Abuse Conference in Melbourne, at which Senator George Brandis announced the ground-breaking Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) Inquiry into ‘Protecting the Rights of Older Australians from Abuse’. Seniors Rights Victoria’s first submission to the Inquiry is here. Public submissions, including several from members of Seniors Rights Victoria’s Elder Abuse Roundtable, are now available here.

Seniors Rights Victoria's submission is based on our staff’s extensive knowledge and casework and seeks, in line with the Inquiry’s intention, to identify best practices for protecting older Australians while promoting respect for their rights and preferences. We hope that it gives voice to the many people who experience elder abuse that we assist. The submission includes, for example, recommendations to fund research, change Centrelink rules, better oversee supportive and substitute decision-makers, expand the functions of the Office of the Public Advocate, and better educate police, lawyers and other service-providers on elder abuse. In all, there are 17 recommendations on legal and other frameworks that we believe, if adopted, will help eradicate the scourge of elder abuse in Australia in all its manifestations.

The ALRC team will spend the next couple of months analysing submissions, conducting further research, and developing proposals for law reform. On 12 December 2016 it plans to release a Discussion Paper that will include actual proposals for reform, and will again call for submissions from the public (due 27 February 2017). The ALRC’s final report will be released in May 2017.


Challenging Ageism

Ageism can be defined as a process of stereotyping and discriminating against a person or people, simply because they are older. Older people often feel patronized or ‘invisible’ and can find it much harder to get or maintain a job, access healthcare, services or housing, or enjoy all manner of things our community has to offer because of how their age is judged. In an Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) study, for example, 71 percent of Australian adults over 65 reported that they had been insulted or mistreated on the basis of their age. With Australia’s - and the global - population getting older, ageism is a serious human rights issue for us all.

Challenging Ageism, produced jointly by COTA Vic and Seniors Rights Victoria, was launched on October 1 2016: the International Day of Older People. The paper provides an overview of ageism in Australia, examples (language, the media, elder abuse, and workplace discrimination), advice on how to stop it, and further resources. Please share it widely.

What you can do:

1.       Examine what goes through your mind when you’re with an older person - check your own ageism

2.       Step in when you see or hear something wrong. Complain to the relevant bodies when you see workplace discrimination, media stereotypes or other forms of ageism happening

3.       Spend time with and value the special older people in your life

4.       Contact COTA Vic to find out about its workshop program on ageism, designed for staff and community

5.       Join Age Demands Action and other global campaigns that challenge age discrimination and fight for the rights of older people.


Meet Tabitha, our community lawyer

Meet Tabitha O’Shea, one of Seniors Rights Victoria's wonderful community lawyers.

Describe a typical day at Seniors Rights Victoria… There is really no such thing as a typical day here. The work we do is so varied and, while our first contact with a client is often via telephone, with ongoing casework we spend a significant amount of time travelling to visit clients for face to face appointments. The matters we assist are often quite complicated and the client base is very diverse. The work often spans various areas of practice – from family violence to grand parenting to guardianship and real property.

How did you get into this line of work?... My legal career has also been quite diverse. I started my career working as a researcher for a Federal politician and then went to the public sector for a couple of years before moving into private practice. I find the community sector and the role of a community lawyer a good balance in the sense you have the opportunity to assist an individual with their particular problem but also get an insight into systemic issues and the ability to agitate for change.

What makes you passionate about your work?... I find the work incredibly interesting and I really feel driven by the stories of the clients and what they have endured. I strongly believe people should be able to access justice regardless of their financial circumstances. I also really enjoy working within Seniors Rights Victoria’s multidisciplinary model (lawyers and advocates working together) and feel that this is one of the true strengths of the work we do.

What do you like to do outside of work?... My other passion is antiques. I have been a collector since my early childhood. I have held a secondhand dealers license for the past 15 years and trade at various antique fairs. I really enjoy the thrill of the hunt and the interactions with other dealers. I started out in the trade in my early twenties selling vintage clothing. I still dabble in the clothes but have broadened out into furniture and other objects. I have a real love for architectural antiques. I probably wouldn’t be able to make a living off the trade but it does subsidize my own collecting and provides a contrast to my professional work.


Family violence reforms

The Victorian Government committed $572 million over two years in the 2016/17 Victorian Budget to respond to the Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations that must be done now – including more housing and crisis refuges, more counsellors, more prevention programs and more support for children who are victims of family violence. It has also established a Family Violence and Service Delivery Reform Unit to lead and co-ordinate work across government and key agencies to respond to the Royal Commission’s 227 recommendations. Community Co-design Workshops have been held across Victoria, with the most recent devoted to developing the Support and Safety Hubs model. Huddle Australia have also been contracted to engage deeply with victim survivors to understand their experiences and their vision for the future. This person-centred approach to family violence reform will be a critical element of the Victorian Family Violence Action Plan, which, along with a 10 Year Vision for Reform, is due to be released this year.

Jenny Blakey, Manager of Seniors Rights Victoria, is a member of the key Family Violence Steering Committee, responsible for leading on the Action Plan, as well as the Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group and Prevention Taskforce. Following Seniors Rights Victoria’s submission, elder abuse was first properly recognised as form of family violence in Royal Commission’s report, and Jenny’s role is to ensure it is not forgotten in the implementation. Jenny has been sharing information and consulting regularly with Seniors Rights Victoria’s Elder Abuse Roundtable of experts, who advocate for older Victorians to live free from abuse and represent about 40 organisations.

For more information on the family violence reforms, and to subscribe to the Victorian Government’s newsletter, go here.


News and resources


·         Seniors Rights Victoria’s partner, the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria, is hosting its state-wide conference on November 11th. The theme is: The Next Generation of Multicultural Victoria: Intergenerational Perspectives

·         Justice Connect Seniors Law has established a new health justice partnership (HJP) with Alfred Health at Caulfield Hospital to help older people experiencing elder abuse and other legal issues

·         The annual Victorian Government Seniors Card Magazine has been distributed to thousands of people. See the article on elder abuse featuring Seniors Rights Victoria here and another article by our advocate Mandy Walmsley

·         Monash University’s review of the Common Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF) has recognised it requires modification to include the needs of older people facing family violence (p22)

·         Kaz Mackay, Seniors Rights Victoria’s Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinator at the ECLC, has received an award from Victoria Police for her work in addressing elder abuse in the region. The collaboration has led to police recording elder abuse specifically in their family violence statistics and conducting regular “Operation Elders” in which they visit homes unannounced where they believe elder abuse may be occurring. Congratulations Kaz!


·         See this excellent infographic on elder abuse from the World Health Organisation (WHO), recent article on elder abuse estimates and explainer on violence against women who are older, including on how gender and age intersect

·         Ageing and the city: making urban spaces work for older people is a new HelpAge report aimed to stimulate discussion about some of the actions governments and city authorities can take to build truly inclusive cities. It focuses on three key themes: reclaiming urban spaces, healthy ageing, and safety and security. See also: Are you 'too old' to find a job? Not in Japan!

·         The Australian Catholic Bishops’ have launched their 2016-2017 Social Justice Statement, entitled A Place at the Table: Social Justice in an Ageing Society. They call for communities that foster solidarity among the generations and ensure older people have their rightful place at the table

·         The latest Everyday-Law blog is Explainer: the law on funeral and burial wishes in Victoria. Many people mistakenly think their wishes will be respected.

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Seniors Rights Victoria
Postal address: Level 4, 98 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: 1300 368 821