By Anita Koochew
Everybody has the right to feel safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to make their own decisions. Some older people however are denied these rights, often by the people who are closest to them.
The mistreatment of older people by someone they know and trust is known as elder abuse. Elder abuse often occurs in complex and highly distressing circumstances and can be financial, psychological, emotional, physical or sexual. It can also involve deliberate social isolation or neglect.
The recent National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that “Almost one in six (14.8 per cent) older Australians report that they have experienced abuse in the past 12 months. Only about one-third of those victims have sought help.”
Eastern Community Legal Centre’s (ECLC) Elder Abuse Responses are committed to supporting older people who might be experiencing elder abuse. The Centre has two programs that provide free and confidential legal advice and assistance to older people experiencing or at risk of elder abuse.
ELSA (Engaging & Living Safely & Autonomously) is a partnership with Eastern Health dedicated to supporting older people receiving care through Eastern Health.
ROSE (Rights of Seniors in the East) is open to all older community members across the eastern metropolitan region and includes a partnership with Oonah Belonging Place for assisting members of the Aboriginal community
Both ROSE and ELSA offer legal assistance together with advocacy and financial counselling, as well as partnership with related services for people who are experiencing elder abuse.
Through these programs, ECLC identifies the key legal, financial and social challenges faced by older community members and works with them to provide options for addressing the abuse and improving their safety and wellbeing.
Through ELSA and ROSE, the teams assist older people with issues such as family violence, breach and revocation of powers of attorney, guardianship matters, grandparenting rights, access to welfare, misappropriation of funds or property, undue influence and support at various tribunal hearings. ECLC also provides assistance and referrals for broader issues such as housing, health, aged care, and financial assistance.
Recently, the ROSE team worked with a client through a complex negotiation to recover a large lump sum of money that had been outstanding from a loan to a close family member.
If you or someone you know requires support or advice in relation to elder abuse, please phone ECLC on 1300 32 52 00 (1300 ECLC 00) or 0429 697 960.
If you would be interested in a free information session for your group or community, please contact Anita Koochew at 1300 32 52 00.
ECLC acknowledges the funding support of the Australian Government for the ROSE and ELSA programs.