Mirrabooka: legal service running program to cut back abuse of older people

Stock image.
Stock image.

A MIRRABOOKA-BASED legal service will roll out a pilot program aimed at cutting back the increasing levels of abuse of older people in Perth.

Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre and SCALES Community Legal Centre, based in Rockingham, have developed the Older People’s Peer Education Scheme.

Funded by the State Government’s criminal property confiscation grant program, a two-year elder abuse awareness pilot project will be rolled out in Stirling, Joondalup, Wanneroo, Kwinana and Rockingham to try and reduce incidents and severity of the abuse.

Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre manager Karen Merrin said they currently saw 150 to 200 clients a year through their Older Person’s Rights Service, for victims or those at risk of abuse.

“(A couple of years ago) we had a client referred to us by an aged care facility, they were concerned because this old lady had no toiletries,” she said.

“They knew she had money, a pension and an enduring power of attorney.

“She’d given her enduring power of attorney to her daughter and the daughter had systematically removed over $100,000 from her account.”

Ms Merrin said another client had moved to Australia to live with his son and daughter-in-law and put his money into a granny flat with no formal agreement in place.

“Six years later, they said ‘sorry you can’t live here anymore’ and he had invested $450,000 into their block,” she said.

Ms Merrin said these were only two examples of the growing issue of elder abuse, which could also include social abuse, physical neglect and bullying.

Two part-time co-ordinators will be hired to train and support 30 older volunteers to provide peer education to individuals, seniors groups, organisations and services.

A DVD will also assist to address issues and types of elder abuse and preventative measures.

Ms Merrin said signs of abuse included when older neighbours, friends or relatives became withdrawn, socially isolated, had nothing in the fridge or their behaviour patterns changed.

About 2000 older people will be targeted as part of the pilot.