FCVic’s work on financial elder abuse continues energised and enabled through a number of projects.
‘Stronger than Before: Rebuilding financial resilience in older residents of bushfire areas’ commenced in June 2021 with three 12-month financial counselling positions at Anglicare Victoria (East Gippsland) and Upper Murray Family Care (Alpine and Towong). The team has been active in service and outreach activities, supported by FCVic professional development, coordination and community resources. A new ‘My Financial Health Check’ tool has been developed with the assistance of Mike Kirkness and Katrina Barrett. The pilot of this tool has been successful and we will continue to generate resources to support its use. A professional development session ‘Identifying Financial Elder Abuse’ will utilise this tool, illustrated by case examples and reflection from four experienced financial counsellors.
Inspired by a terrific briefing session with the bushfire elder abuse team, the planned conference session ‘Rebuilding Resilience: The path to recovery post disaster’ on 9th February 2022 has been relocated to Zoom and runs from 2pm to 4pm. Disasters magnify the challenges faced at a personal level by disrupting the very fabric of communities. It can be hard to know where to start. Working from case examples and in discussion with a panel of three experienced financial counsellors, Dr Rob Gordon will take an interactive approach to explore why resilience has been lost, and how it might be regained.
‘Standing Strong: Financial resilience for older carers’ is a new project, successfully pitched for in June 2021 and announced by the Victorian Government the following October. FCVic is partnered with Alfred Health Carers Services and Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre to examine the financial issues faced by older carers, with a particular focus on ‘hidden’ groups including carers from cultural and linguistically diverse communities and LGBTIQA+ communities.
An estimated 45 per cent of Victoria’s unpaid primary carers are caring for their partner, and a large proportion of these are aged over 65 years themselves. For these people, the caring role emerges over time and may be under-acknowledged, hidden and poorly supported.
The changed family dynamic and the stress of expanding care tasks introduce vulnerabilities that are novel to the older carer. They may never have dealt with the family finances before, and never experienced financial difficulties. They may feel that money is a private matter and be reluctant to share or discuss any concerns. Newly exposed to a wide range of financial challenges, they are vulnerable to scams and financial elder abuse. The simple tasks of daily budgeting are also complicated by the world of aged care assessments and co-contributions, superannuation and the like.
For LGBTIQA+ carers, these challenges may be exacerbated as they are, or feel, under-recognised as the primary carer, and less able to obtain the support they need. These carers may also carry a history of trauma related to their LGBTIQ identity and entrenched family resentments.
Carers’ cultural backgrounds also influence their experience of ageing, the family context and their caring role.
In preparation for this work, FCVic is offering specialised professional development on ‘Working with LGBTIQA+ Community Members’ to be delivered by Rainbow Health on 5th May 2022. The session includes a prerequisite online module (updated version will be hot off the press at Rainbow Health) and contributions from a strong and diverse panel.
Our partner contribution to Australian Multicultural Community Services’ project ‘Money Talks for Better Ageing’ concluded with a launch event in September 2021. Those interested can access the resources here – www.amcservices.org.au/projects/money-talks-for-better-ageing.
In further good news – congratulations to Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA) and Eastern Community Legal Centre for the welcome pre-Christmas announcement of extended Federal Government funding. ECLC provides valuable individual support through its programs:
- ELSA partnership with Eastern Health which provides legal, financial counselling and social work support to older people experiencing or at risk of abuse within Eastern Health hospitals and health services throughout the eastern suburbs and Yarra Valley
- ROSE specialist elder abuse team after successful ‘Service Trials’ of these innovative integrated services/Health Justice Partnership models across Australia
The Government has also committed resources to the development of a second National Plan.
Last word for now – FCVic is starting to plan a special professional development and networking day on ‘Working with Persons Using Financial Elder Abuse’ to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in June 2022. If any members, agencies or organisations are interested in partnering or helping to plan the day, please get in touch with Suzy at [email protected].