Caxton Legal Centre welcomes the Queensland Government’s release of its strategic plan which places priority on the ongoing funding of the Seniors Legal and Support Service which Caxton delivers in Brisbane. This service provides free legal and social work supports to older Queenslanders who experience abuse or neglect, usually by family members and formal decision-makers.
The Federal Government will release its prevalence study in the next couple of months. In the meanwhile, the Review in the Prevalence and Characteristics of Elder Abuse in Queensland 2017 estimated 105,618 victims of elder abuse in 2017 with that number expected to almost double by 2037.
$312 million was calculated by the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit to be misappropriated through financial elder abuse in 2015-2016. Their 2020 Year in Review indicates that it is our most vulnerable Queenslanders at risk of elder abuse with the largest group of persons affected by elder abuse being aged 80-84 years. Females were over-represented as victims, and around half of the victims had care needs and/or their spouses had died. Social connectedness, a protective factor against elder abuse, was evident in only one-quarter of older persons.
Law and social work team help Judy reclaim her life
Judy had experienced years of verbal abuse and coercive control at the hands of her husband, Marcus, before she approached Caxton Legal Centre’s Seniors Legal and Support Service (SLASS).
The abuse escalated when Judy told Marcus she wanted a divorce. Marcus worked hard to undermine Judy’s self-esteem, frequently telling her she was worthless, putting her down in front of friends and family and shouting and pointing his finger in her face. Marcus told Judy that she wasn’t allowed to move items of furniture inside the house and interrogated her about how much money she spent. He repeatedly threw objects at Judy’s head, often hitting her.
Judy said “I’ve lived with a spare pair of clothes and washing detergent in my purse for as long as I can remember… I don’t want to live like this anymore.”
At her appointment with the Seniors Legal and Support Service, Judy received legal advice about domestic violence. The SLASS lawyer drafted the application for a temporary protection order over the telephone, which Judy particularly appreciated because she has dyslexia, yet had been advised by other services that she was required to fill out the application herself. The SLASS social worker developed a safety plan with Judy and provided ongoing counselling.
Judy’s application for a temporary protection order was successful. It included a provision requiring Marcus to move out of the house and cease contact with Judy.
Judy was immensely relieved to have the order in place and Marcus out of her life.
Marcus complied with the temporary protection order and made an undertaking to continue to do so once it expired. Judy eagerly proceeded with the property settlement so that she could move on from the destructive relationship in its entirety.
The Queensland Government’s Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships strategic plan is available here:
The Seniors Legal and Support Service (SLASS) provides free legal and social work support for older persons experiencing elder abuse, mistreatment, neglect or financial exploitation and can be reached on (07) 3214 6333.