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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Upcoming information forum set to examine Legal Matters for Older Fellas

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Two Council on the Ageing Victoria (COTA VIC) programs – Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) and Older Men: New Ideas (OM:NI) – will pool their resources to host Legal Matters for Older Fellas, a forum featuring legal and education experts, to provide older male Victorians with a suite of invaluable information around planning ahead to protect their rights.

The 2.5 hour forum, which will be held on Wednesday, April 6 at the Hawthorn Arts Centre, will cover a number of topics including Enduring Powers of Attorney, Medical Decision Making and Advanced Care Directives.

Gary Ferguson, SRV education coordinator, tells Aged Care News that the forum will provide a safe space for older men to consider and discuss planning for the future within a legal context.

“In this generation of men, traditional masculinity is important… such men usually prefer to take care of things on their own,” Ferguson says.

“… but we’ve found in the OM:NI support groups, when men are able to speak freely and openly amongst other men, that they do open up about these issues.”

Gary Ferguson, education coordinator at Seniors Rights Victoria, says that the goal of the forum is allow men to feel comfortable discussing their vulnerability to abuse, and to empower them to develop clear prevention strategies, enlisting the help of legal professionals where required.

Ferguson notes that the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study, published by the Australian Institute of Family Services in December 2021, shows that 25 percent of elder abuse is committed against men.

While men are less likely than women to experience elder abuse overall, this research found that men still experienced psychological, financial and physical abuse at significant levels.

And Ferguson notes that from his experience working at SRV, men tend to suffer in silence for longer.

“For men, we have found that they do not tend to speak up in the earlier stages of abuse, only when it gets to a critical level, whereas that’s less the case for women.

“We hope this forum creates an inviting and relaxed environment for forum participants to have the confidence to ask questions and discuss options with the legal experts present, [and] by the end of the forum, we expect that they’ll have more clarity and confidence to make informed decisions and protect their future.”

And informing men of prevention strategies will be top priority at the forum.

Former AFL Sydney Swans player and practicing barrister, Wayne Henwood, will open the morning tea, bringing to the table 17 years’ experience working with clients on the guardian and administration list at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Henwood says that education and planning are fundamental in order to ensuring that older persons’ choices are respected in the future.

“It is such a common occurrence to see older Victorians left in dire and vulnerable situations because they have not put the appropriate plans in place to ensure their wishes are met and respected.

“I am hoping that through this forum, we are able to highlight the importance of planning for the future and discussing the options with trusted family and loved ones.

“Elder abuse can be prevented by thinking and acting ahead.”

The Legal Matters for Older Fellas forum will be held on Wednesday April 6, from 10am- 12.30pm at the Hawthorn Arts Centre, 360 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn.

After attending the event, some older men may wish to seek further assistance from SRV, which Ferguson welcomes.

“SRV offers both social workers and legal professionals, free of charge.”

Elders can access these services by calling the SRV Hotline on 1300 368 821, which operates from Monday to Friday 10am-5pm.

More about Seniors Rights Victoria and Older Men: New Ideas

Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) is a COTA VIC initiative, which aims to advance the rights of older people and prevent elder abuse by advocating for policy changes and law reform.

This involves making submissions to government inquiries and royal commissions, promoting SRV policy positions through discussion papers, and conducting and taking part in research.

You can read more about their work by following this link.

OM:NI’s mission is to enhance the health, wellbeing and lifestyle of older men aged 55 and over.

This is achieved by developing community based groups for older men.

The groups provide safe, confidential and supportive places for men to develop friendship and camaraderie.

OM:NI meetings, which generally last two hours, are currently available in various locations across New South Wales and Victoria.

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