WA News Guest Opinion / Editorial Rights are Lifelong
Rights are Lifelong
Written by Andy McMillan
Wednesday, 06 December 2017

Dear Editor,

With submissions to the state parliamentary inquiry into elder abuse deadline slated for November 17, the issue is very much in the forefront for Advocare, which advocates on behalf of vulnerable people. The complex world of advocating for others means treading a fine line (Protecting the Elderly from Greed, Deidre Timms, November 2017). There are often competing interests within families that require highly sensitive handling but one clear message is clear a person’s rights don’t cease to exist when they turn 65 years-of-age.

One of the most important aspects of working in this field is our constant attempt to raise the profile of the services we provide here at Advocare. We’re hoping that increased awareness and positive changes will flow on from the state inquiry.

There is heightened community awareness of domestic violence and child abuse but abuse of older people needs a lot more attention. We learn new things every day on the Elder Abuse Help-Line, and some of them aren’t at all pleasant.

It’s takes a lot of courage to dial a 1800 number and speak with someone you don’t know about a sensitive issue. Advocare is all about finding solutions and arriving at the best possible outcome and sometimes that means, after receiving permission to act on a person’s behalf, seeking legal advice.

Advocare is also not just a service confined to the metropolitan area. We do a lot of community education in regional WA and speaking with country people makes you realise that they have issues regarding abuse of the elderly. It’s tougher for them and just one of the many challenges of living in remote areas. Hopefully, with upgraded technology, we’ll be able to improve our services to those people.

A person’s rights don’t go out the window when they turn 65. They have them for life and it’s vitally important that they’re not trampled on.

We often do presentations to medical professionals and the one thing we try to get across is if they see any signs that something isn’t quite right, then speak up. Ask the question and, if they feel it’s appropriate, call Advocare.

Andy McMillan, advocate, Advocare

ED: Elder Abuse Helpline 1300 724 679; 1800 655 566 (Country callers)