Tag Archive: elder abuse

  1. Health Justice Partnership supporting older people at risk

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    Since opening its doors in 2019, ELSA (Engaging & Living Safely & Autonomously) a Health Justice Partnership between ECLC and Eastern Health has delivered critical services and supported 30 older people who were experiencing or at risk of elder abuse and who needed help.

    ELSA has provided this support through its legal and financial counselling services which are embedded into the health service to help identify and quickly respond to older people with increased vulnerability who are experiencing or at risk of elder abuse.

    From October 2019 to January 2021, the ELSA team has:

    • Held 90 client sessions (an average of 3 sessions and 2 hours per client).
    • Supported 83 health workers, 5 family/friends and 3 other professionals with a patient, family member or friend experiencing or at risk of elder abuse.
    • Held 16 online (via zoom video) sessions and educated more than 200 health workers. These sessions focused on Financial Counselling, and Wills & Powers of Attorney. All participants said their understanding of the topics had increased and that they felt better able to inform their clients.

    Financial and psychological abuse are the key reasons older people contact ELSA for help including:

    • Theft (27%)
    • Taking control of bank accounts and/or assets, including real estate (27%)
    • Psychological intimidation (20%).

    ELSA delivers services to older patients (inpatients and outpatients) across all Eastern Health sites by phone, video conference and, if safe and most appropriate for patients’ needs, in person.

    “Don’t let it go by the wayside. Many people don’t really understand that it is abuse. There is help. It is very sad that there is a lack of awareness from many older people and a majority of people are scared to say anything.”

    ELSA client

    Older patients can access the ELSA service by speaking to an Eastern Health worker, by calling 0429 697 960 or by emailing ELSA.


    ECLC’s Managing Lawyer – Elder Abuse Shahaan Murray (above left) said the kinds of elder abuse ELSA is seeing happens behind closed doors.

    “Sadly, the abuse we are seeing is mostly intentional and caused by known and trusted family members and friends.

    “As well as trying to help older people who are vulnerable and experiencing or at risk of elder abuse, we must educate and change community views of older people.

    “All older people deserve to live their lives independently, safely, and peacefully,” said Shahaan.


  2. EVENT: Chinese Family Day – respecting elders

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    Join us for a Family Day about respecting elders and treating them with dignity. There will be speeches from a variety of services, providing information and helpful strategies on how to treat our elders respectfully. Family members of all ages are encouraged to attend!

    Date:           Saturday 14 April 2018

    Time:           9.30am – 1.30pm

    Venue:         Box Hill Town Hall, 1022 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill – in the Boyland Room & Visual Art Room

    Language:   Mandarin and Cantonese (with interpreters)

    Morning Tea provided

    Booking essential – please contact Chinese Community Social Services Centre on (03) 9898 1965.

    Download the flyer (.PDF)

    This event is supported by Eastern Community Legal Centre, Chinese Community Social Services Centre Inc., the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the Victorian Government.

  3. ECLC funded for elder abuse prevention work

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    ECLC has been funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to expand its vital elder abuse prevention work through the recent Elder Abuse Prevention Network funding round.

    ECLC has been leading the highly successful Eastern Elder Abuse Network since 2008 (with limited resources in partnership with Seniors Rights Victoria) and the new funding directly recognises the importance and value of such networks, as recognised by the Royal Commission
    into Family Violence.

    Although ECLC has been granted the funding, CEO Michael Smith emphasised the crucial importance of a partnership approach.

    “The many health, community, government and other agencies in the East have been working together for many years now to elder abuse in the community through the EEAN. Regrettably, the disgraceful and insidious abuse of seniors remains a major issue and the partners also
    collaborate very closely in responding to those in need.” he said.

    “ECLC particularly appreciates the active support of many partners in the application for this funding, emphasising the strong and multi-layered partnerships we share.”

    ECLC looks forward to implementing the activities under this funding over the next year.

  4. EVENT: Respect Your Elders Indian Family Day and Community Forum

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    Join us for a Family Day about respecting elders and treating them with dignity.

    There will be representatives from a variety of services such as Victoria Police, Sheriff’s Office, Department of Human Services (DHS), Family Mediation Centre, Carers Victoria and much more!

    They will be providing information and helpful strategies on how to treat our elders respectfully.

    Saturday 11 November 2017

    10am – 2pm

    Room 1, 45 Miller Crescent, Mount Waverley 3149


    Family members of all ages are encouraged to attend.

    Lunch and children play area provided.

    Register here.

    Download the flyer.

    This event is presented in partnership with IndianCare, Indian Senior Citizens Association Victoria, Victorian Multicultural Commission, Victoria State Government and Eastern Community Legal Centre.

  5. Karma, or kartha? Elder abuse in CALD communities

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    By Aparna Ananthuni

    A sad and shocking reality for many older members from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Australia is the experience of elder abuse.

    To raise awareness of this issue and offer advice to those suffering, a workshop event was held for members of the Indian Senior Citizens Association (ISCA) to coincide with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 25 June. Funded by a grant from the Victoria Law Foundation, the “Matter of Trust” workshop was organised by Jacqui D’Silva (Program Coordinator at Eastern Community Legal Centre, ECLC), Dr Inderjit Jasal (Vice President of ISCA), award winning community volunteer and financial expert Dilnaz Billimoria, and Anand Shome of IndianCare.

    The workshop included a role-play scenario and presentations by several agencies including Centrelink, Victoria Police, Department of Justice, Eastern Community Legal Centre and Ringwood Family Relationship Centre.

    The need for greater awareness of elder abuse in CALD communities was first raised some years ago by Leigh Gilmore, the Senior Sheriff’s Officer of the Department of Justice, who noted increasing evictions of older people from their homes.

    Dilnaz Billimoria explains how older couples will often sell their homes and businesses to come and live with their adult children, frequently to help them out, financially.

    “They shift their lives. They find that initially it’s all great…and [then] they’re finding that suddenly things have changed.”

    The younger couple asks them to help pay for a second mortgage. Or help them start a business.

    “You’ll be shocked, the parents do it all the time,” she says. “Then, when things go bust and they can’t pay, the bank says, ‘Sorry, but you’re the guarantor’.”

    And it’s not just financial abuse. Elders, even ones that have been in Australia for a number of years, can be physically and emotionally bullied, isolated without means of transport, and even locked in the home.

    There is a cultural dimension to the way abused Indian elders might view their situation. “A lot of Indian senior citizens, even though they’re suffering, believe that this is part of their karma and they actually accept it,” Billimoria says.

    The response to the workshop from the audience of around 50 Indian senior citizens was, Billimoria says, “absolutely amazing”.

    “Initially they were aghast to know that this was happening, but about 50 per cent of them knew it was happening to a “friend” – perhaps themselves – and they had so many questions as to what they can do to stop it,” she says.

    For older people, there is no need to fear being kicked out of your house or prevented from seeing grandchildren or other members of the family, regardless of what your visa status is or who owns the house you’re living in. Moreover, as explained in the workshop, those on a Dependent Visa can still access Centrelink services.

    All Australian government agencies can provide free translation interpretation services, as well as confidential meetings. There is also short-term emergency housing available.

    But, as Dilnaz Billimoria says, don’t let it get to that stage. Take control. Don’t give away all your money. Make a will. Have an executor. Talk to someone.

    “Someone at the event came up with the phrase, ‘It’s karma versus kartha’. There are some senior citizens who are realising, ‘I’m not going tolerate this rubbish and I’m going to take action’.”

    Hear hear!

    If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, please contact Eastern Community Legal Centre

    First published in Indian Link. Reproduced here with permission.

  6. Federal Election 2016 – Candidates respond to community legal issues

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    In the lead up to the 2016 Federal Election, ECLC contacted all federal candidates for the House of Representatives in its catchment who are running for the upcoming election.

    ECLC respectfully asked candidates to outline their response to key issues facing communities in Melbourne’s east and the community legal sector, including:

    1. Commonwealth funding cuts to community legal services
    2. Community Law Australia – Fund Equal Justice campaign and recommendations from the Productivity Commission for secure funding of legal assistance
    3. Family violence prevention and response
    4. Specialist pathways for family violence cases in the courts
    5. Elder abuse prevention, education and response
    6. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice reinvestment

    The full letter can be accessed here.


    ECLC will publish candidates’ responses in the lead up to election day on July 2.

    Responses received to date can be viewed by electorate or by candidate.


    A full response from Stefanie Perri (ALP, Chisholm) was received on June 23 and is available here. (Apologies, as this should have been included in the earlier e-news.)

    A response from the Turnbull Coalition Team was received on June 27 and is available here.

    A response from Nick McKim, Greens spokesperson for legal affairs, was received on June 30 and is available here.

    Funding announcement

    On June 16, local ALP Candidates Stefanie Perri (Chisholm) and Tony Clark (Deakin) attended ECLC’s Box Hill office to announce a funding boost of $450,000 over 3 years if elected. Their media release is here.


    ECLC also contacted candidates via Twitter. Their responses can be viewed here or by clicking through the slideshow below.

  7. Eastern CLC welcomes historic Royal Commission findings

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    Eastern Community Legal Centre has strongly welcomed the comprehensive and historic findings of the Royal Commission into Family Violence that were tabled in parliament today and released by Premier Daniel Andrews and Commissioner Marcia Neave, AO.

    Mr Michael Smith, CEO of Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) praised the depth and breadth of the report and its 227 recommendations.

    “The Royal Commission has established a clear systems approach to tackling the scourge of family violence across the community, with a broad range of recommendations across prevention, response, support, justice and legal systems as well as perpetrator accountability.” he said

    “It has clearly heard the voices of victim/survivors as well as professionals and agencies working in this field for many years, including the expertise of our Centre and our many colleagues and partners.”

    “The success of a number of initiatives and pilot projects in our Eastern region is clear in the report and ECLC looks forward to working with the government and partners to implement the recommendations without delay.”

    ECLC welcomes the Premier’s comments that,

    “There can be no more excuses. Our work begins today to overhaul our broken family violence system from the bottom up.”¹

    as well as the State Government’s clear commitment to implement all recommendations. While it will take some time to analyse the report’s details, the Royal Commission clearly identified that,

    “All parts of the system—support services, police, courts – are overwhelmed by the number of family violence incidents now reported. Services are not currently equipped to meet this high level of demand, which undermines the safety of those experiencing family violence and their potential for recovery.”²

    This is certainly the case in Melbourne’s East, with the Royal Commission noting a doubling of family violence incidents in last five years (to 2013-14).

    “ECLC, like many agencies, is struggling to cope with the increased demand for assistance from family violence victims,” said Belinda Lo, Principal Lawyer. “We remain highly concerned for women and children who may not receive the help they need so remain in immediate danger – this needs an urgent, whole of community response.”

    ECLC provided three detailed submissions to the Royal Commission with a focus on specific projects and expertise. In this context, ECLC particularly welcomes:

    • That all Magistrates’ Courts headquarter courts have the function of Family Violence Division Courts, with specialist magistrates, registrars, staff and facilities (Rec 60).
    • This acknowledges the critical Ringwood Family Violence Integration Project, an ECLC led partnership project, including its key outcomes with RC recommendations for:
      • a daily co-ordination meeting before hearings in the family violence list (Rec. 64)
      • capital works for “safe waiting areas” and other appropriate facilities (Rec. 70)
      • production of “multi-media information about the family violence intervention order process that can not only be viewed online but can be shown in court waiting areas… (Rec. 73) See ECLC’s Steps 2 Safety video resources.
      • a series of recommendations for improving the court and justice system for people experiencing family violence (Recs 60-78).
    • The importance of specialist (family violence and legal) services working closely with universal health and education services to prevent, identify and respond to family violence.
    • The emphasis on Family Violence and Diversity, particularly the needs of older people (in elder abuse as a form of family violence), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people in rural and regional communities, people from CaLD communities, LGBTI people, people with disabilities and more.
    • The extensive education, awareness-raising and co-ordination work of ECLC’s elder abuse work, as well as the Eastern Elder Abuse Network was widely cited and commended, including:
      • that “ageism—stereotyping or discriminating against a person because of their age—can be an important factor in family violence against older people” (Vol V p 71)
      • the importance of professional development and training for police and a range of health professionals in family violence and older people
      • ECLC’s training videos on Elder Abuse
      • The EEAN electronic case conferencing facility (Vol V. p78)
    • Improved Residential Tenancies Act legislation and VCAT procedures for when family violence impacts on tenancies, protecting the victim from further financial impact (Rec 116).

    Download ECLC’s full media release.

    ¹ Media Release, It’s Time To Fix Our Broken Family Violence System, March 30, 2016
    ² RCFV Report, Summary, p6
  8. Commissioner Susan Ryan Launches Behind the Curtain: Elder Abuse Video for GPs

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    The Honourable Susan Ryan AO, Age Discrimination Commissioner, launched ECLC’s elder abuse video Behind the Curtain at St Vincent’s Hospital, Wednesday 9 December, 2015.

    The two-minute video about elder abuse was created by Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) to help educate GPs about indicators of family violence, services and referral information. Behind the Curtain tells the story of Anna who begins to experience elder abuse after family members move interstate.

    ECLC’s Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate Kaz Mackay explains that primary health providers play an important role in assisting people experiencing elder abuse.

    “Very often, a GP is the only professional that an older person will disclose their abuse to, yet few GP’s seem to understand elder abuse or have knowledge of appropriate local services to refer their patients to,” said Ms Mackay.

    Elder abuse is a growing issue for Australia. Elder abuse is any act of harm to an older person that is committed by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust such as a partner, family member or friend. This can take the form of financial, psychological and physical abuse.

    ECLC CEO Michael Smith explains that part of the silence and complexity around elder abuse is the reluctance that many people who are experiencing the abuse to take action or criticise their adult children and relatives.

    “Our lawyers often find that clients who are suffering from elder abuse do not want to press charges against their own adult child. Most do not want to view the behaviour as abuse,” said Mr Smith.

    Behind the Curtain was created with funds from the former Inner East Melbourne Medicare Local.

    Download ECLC’s full media release.

    Visit ECLC’s Elder Abuse page for more information.