Page updated December 21, 2021

Funding announced for key health justice partnerships announced

December 21, 2021

One of Eastern Community Legal Centre’s (ECLC) most powerful partnerships is the ELSA partnership with Eastern Health.

ELSA provides legal, financial counselling and social work support to older people experiencing or at risk of abuse within Eastern Health hospitals and health services throughout the eastern suburbs and Yarra Valley.

We are very excited to share that the Federal Government has just announced ongoing funding for this work – as well as the ROSE specialist elder abuse team after successful ‘Service Trials of these innovative integrated services/Health Justice Partnership models across Australia.

CEO Michael Smith, said, “We know the tragic and devastating impact of elder abuse on community members who should be celebrated and respected. As this work grows, we are sadly uncovering its breadth and depth. We are reassured that the government is recognising its vital importance and the success of these models, built on strong partnerships.”

The key element of the ELSA partnership is the full integration of ECLC’s multidisciplinary team of advocates/social workers, community lawyers and financial counsellors through Eastern Health’s hospitals and specialist services.

This has changed the way public health services deal with abuse and suspected abuse in our area. Every month, where hospital staff team identifies people experiencing abuse, ELSA provides confidential assistance in order for them to escape violent situations and recover their quality of life after the abuse has ended.

Age Discrimination Commissioner, The Hon Dr. Kay Patterson AO, has also looked closely at the ELSA program and wanted the partners to share this message.

Abuse of older people is an insidious and growing problem as the population ages. It can involve physical, psychological, financial and sexual abuse and, most disturbingly, usually is usually committed by the adult children of frail, older parents.

The most prevalent forms of abuse encountered in the first two years of ELSA and ROSE include psychological intimidation; deprivation of assets or property; theft of money and possessions; physical assault/abuse; deprivation of basic necessities including food; and abuses of Powers of Attorney.

You can read the funding announcement here.

Barbara’s story

Barbara was identified as someone who might be experiencing abuse when she was admitted to an Emergency Department with serious injuries by her adult son living at home.

Clinicians arranged for her to speak to the hospital social worker while she was an in-patient and she disclosed details of her situation for the first time due to the high level of trust with hospital staff.

“He was very controlling. We could never criticise him for anything or we would get bashed. He’s emptied our bank accounts completely, stolen all the jewellery, sold tools… anything of value.”

“As parents, you live for your children and you think it’s going to get better… but it didn’t. That was the realisation, that we had to get him away from us.”

“When I spoke to Paul (ELSA Community Lawyer) and told him what happened, he reassured me that there would have to be something to stop him and that we were doing the right thing. To have Paul there, he was great.”

Paul worked with the Eastern Health and ECLC teams to facilitate social, legal and financial counselling support to enable Barbara and her husband to protect themselves from their son’s violent and controlling behaviour.

*Barbara’s name changed for privacy

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