Royal Commission shines a spotlight on elder abuse as family violence

30 March 2016
Seniors Law is pleased to see elder abuse recognised as a form of family violence

Justice Connect Seniors Law is extremely pleased to see the Royal Commission into Family Violence recognise elder abuse as form of family violence in its report, and recommend a co-ordinated response.

The Commission recommended Victorian Government resource public hospitals to implement a whole-of-hospital model for responding to family violence, drawing on evaluated approaches in Victoria and elsewhere within three to five years.

“We strongly support this recommendation, which will make a real difference in the lives of the older people we see who experience family violence.

“Recognising that people experiencing elder abuse often seek health care, but require a more comprehensive response, including legal support, a whole-of-hospital approach allows better co-ordination of services designed to help older people experiencing family violence,” said Lauren Adamson, manager and principal lawyer of Justice Connect Seniors Law.

“We encourage the Victorian Government to draw on the positive findings of health justice partnerships, where a specialist lawyer is integrated into the health care team to provide more immediate and convenient legal help to people experiencing family violence, as it implements this recommendation.

“We also encourage funding towards the implementation of this whole-of-organisation model be extended to community health organisations,” said Ms Adamson.

As outlined in the Commission’s report Justice Connect Seniors Law – a pro bono legal service – and cohealth – a community health organisation – have established a health justice partnership to help older people experiencing elder abuse. The Legal Services Board funded the three-year partnership, which is to be independently evaluated by La Trobe University. 

“In just the first year, we have seen evidence of improved relationships between health and legal professionals, a better understanding of different sectors and improved capacity to address elder abuse. Most importantly, as a result of the partnership, we are able to help older people experiencing family violence who otherwise would not be able to access legal help,” said Ms Adamson.

“We congratulate the Commission on this report and its recognition of elder abuse, and we commend the Victorian Government for its commitment to implementing these far-reaching recommendations,” said Ms Adamson.

Justice Connect Seniors Law’s submission to the commission can be found here.

Media inquiries: Ed Butler, communications manager, 03 8636 4476, 0408 620 385, ed.butler@justiceconnect.org.au