Seniors Rights Victoria, a program of COTA Victoria has received funding the Department of Justice and Regulation to partner with Dementia Australia (DA) to pilot a series of legal information sessions and clinics across the state.
Advocacy support is an integral component of the project to ensure a holistic response for the non-legal needs of participants.
The sessions and clinics will enable people who have been recently diagnosed with dementia to plan ahead and make informed choices about their future financial, health and care arrangements, and to put those choices into an appropriate legal format.
The pilot project will run for one year.
Seniors Rights Victoria will support delivery of the session on Advanced Care Planning and Powers of Attorney (POAs) within the ‘Living with Dementia’ program and as standalone one-off community education sessions. In addition, SRV will provide a number of legal clinics for those community session attendees to provide one-on-one legal and advocacy consultations.
‘This will ensure that legal education and advice is based on therapeutic principles and an empowerment approach for the older person, including the provision of support for non-legal issues facing the individual. It will also allow us to screen for elder abuse,’ said Seniors Rights Principal Lawyer Rebecca Edwards.
‘We’re really excited to be pioneering this approach in collaboration with Dementia Australia – the link between cognitive impairment and elder abuse is well established,’ she said.
Ms Edwards said Australian research estimates that up to 10 per cent of older people experience some form of elder abuse and that the incidence is significantly under-reported (Kaspiew et al 2016). In addition, almost one in 10 people over 65 have dementia (NATSEM 2016). For example, recent research has found elder abuse prevalence rates among guardianship clients of 13 per cent in 2013-14 and 21 per cent in 2016-17 (Bedson et al 2018).
The sessions will start in 2019.