Seniors Rights Victoria
Seniors Rights Victoria will ensure that people understand that human rights are basic, and that older people should be at the centre of the decision making about their lives.
- Dr Helen Szoke, CEO and Chief Concilliator Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Launch of Senior Rights Victoria, Monday 16th June 2008, Melbourne Town Hall
In April 2008 PILCH entered into a joint venture with Eastern and Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centres, and the Council on the Ageing (COTA) to establish a new specialist community legal service, Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV). SRV has been funded by the State Government and established to prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights of older Victorians. Its mission is to empower older Victorians so they can take steps to live in safety, with dignity and independence. The service was officially launched by the Victorian Government on 27 April 2008.
The provision of specialised community legal services targeted to the needs of disadvantaged older people to improve access to justice was a key recommendation of the Report of the Elder Abuse Prevention Project, Strengthening Victoria's Response to Elder Abuse, in December 2005. The Commonwealth Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Report published in September 2007, Older Persons and the Law, also made several relevant recommendations to address the barriers to older Australians accessing legal services including specifically increasing funding for the expansion of community legal sector services to older people.
The focus of the legal work of SRV is on the capacity of the law to deal with and remedy the mostly hidden issues of elder abuse: social isolation, exclusion and discrimination. Elder abuse, as defined by the World Health Organisation is ‘any act that causes harm to an older person that is carried out by someone they know and trust, such as family, friends or a carer'. It may include physical, financial, psychological or sexual mistreatment and neglect.
SRV commenced operation through its Central, Eastern and Bendigo offices in June 2008 and provides a range of services including a telephone helpline, referrals, legal advice, advocacy, community and professional education.
PILCH's role in SRV was to develop a clinical outreach model for the delivery pro bono legal services to individuals at risk of elder abuse, modeled on our extensive experience with the Homeless Persons' Legal Clinic. To ensure their accessibility to SRV clients, clinics are located in close proximity to existing community hubs where other services for older people are already located. As the first model of this kind in Victoria, SRV provides the private profession with a unique opportunity to embed pro bono legal services within the community sector and become and integral part of a nationwide human rights response to elder abuse.
Contact Seniors Rights Victoria
Click here for details about how to contact SRV.