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Elder abuse community legal education at Cherbourg

Caxton Legal Centre's Seniors Legal and Support Service helps seniors experiencing elder abuse, mistreatment or financial exploitation. Their intervention model has social workers and lawyers working side-by-side to identify psycho-social and legal issues, and then follow through with the older person if they opt to take action or need other health, financial or social supports.

On the 14th November, 2017 a social worker and lawyer from their team headed to Cherbourg in response to an invitation to talk to seniors there at the Ration Shed Museum, a terrific spot to visit to understand the history of the Cherbourg Aboriginal community.

The welcome to country was given by Mayor of Cherbourg, Cr Arnold Murray and some of the senior community members attended with plenty of comments and questions to contribute to a lively discussion. Others involved were Uniting Care Community’s Time for Grandparents program who lead the forum, the Office of the Public Guardian, and Clarissa from DATSIP who is leading one of three Queensland trials for integrated approaches to improving the safety of those effected by domestic and family violence.

The abuse of seniors is a difficult topic for most audiences. To get the message across, they acted out a typical home visit where they keep things relaxed and make the most of the opportunity for face-to-face communication. Home visits are particularly helpful for clients with some hearing loss or problems with mobility. For many people, this low-stress way to receive services also optimises their capacity to recall information and make decisions.

The home visit role play drew out issues of financial, physical and psychological abuse; assets-for-care, domestic violence, Enduring Powers of Attorney and mobile phone debt issues; as well as social isolation, age-related modifications for safety in the home, safety planning, human rights and the role that the extended family can play in keeping seniors safe.

Caxton staff appreciated the hospitality and support from the Cherbourg community to help them connect and talk about preventing and dealing with elder abuse. Their only complaint was that they had to compete with so many beautiful birds calling from the tress surrounding the Ration Shed Museum!