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
• 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
• 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
• 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
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.
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.
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:
Examine what goes through your mind when you’re with an
older person - check your own ageism
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
Spend time with and value the special older people in
Contact COTA Vic to find out about its
workshop program on ageism, designed for staff and community
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.