Having legal affairs in order reduces risk of elder abuse

Hume Riverina Community Legal Service marked World Elder Abuse Day on June 15, 2017, by visiting aged care facilities in Wangaratta to raise awareness about the issue. Hume Riverina Community Legal Service principal lawyer Sarah Rodgers said elder abuse was generally carried out by a trusted family member or friend, and impacted a person in a number of ways, and legal assistance was needed in most cases.

“Financial abuse is the most common type of abuse reported, and all the evidence suggests it remains underreported in Victoria,” Ms Rogers said. “They can be extremely difficult situations, because the victim may need the support of the abuser to carry out their daily activities.”

Ms Rodgers said HRCLS visited aged care facilities because aged care and health care workers, including nurses, may see elder abuse first hand and can offer support, particularly if they see a negative change in behaviour or learn of financial transactions happening without permission.

“Helping people understand their rights, and ensuring staff at facilities caring for the elderly also identify issues, will help decrease the rates of elder abuse in the community,” Ms Rodgers said. “Elderly people can be reluctant to report abuse, and staff giving them information and support can encourage them to get help.”

Ms Rodgers said it was important elderly people had their legal affairs in order to help reduce the risk of elder abuse occurring. Older Victorians experiencing elder abuse, or family members concerned about an older person, can contact Hume Riverina Community Legal Service for free legal advice. Appointments can be made by calling 1800 918 377.

HRCLS is auspiced by UMFC who also offer assistance for over 65s through their Support Options Program, providing a range of services for the aged and those who care for them. For more information call 02 6055 8000 or 03 5720 0000.

Elder abuse includes:

  • Financial abuse:Using someone’s money, property or other assets illegally or improperly or forcing someone to change their will or sign documents. This is the most common form of abuse seen in Victoria.
  • Emotional abuse:Using threats, humiliation or harassment causing distress and feelings of shame, stress or powerlessness.
  • Physical abuse:Inflicting pain or injury by hitting, slapping, pushing or using restraints.
  • Social abuse:Forcing someone to become isolated by restricting access to family, friends or services. This can be used to prevent others from finding out about the abuse.

UMFC_Ruth Harris_HRCLS lawyer Deb Fisher_UMFC Jan Bence_HRCLS Simon Crase

IMAGE: UMFC manager support options aged and disability support services Ruth Harris, HRCLS lawyer Deb Fisher, UMFC manager Interchange aged disability support services Jan Bence and HRCLS Community Legal Education officer Simon Crase recognise World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Thursday, June 15