Call to stop abuse

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News - Pia van Straalen

PERTH THE abuse of the el­derly re­mains largely un­re­ported due to vic­tims be­ing re­luc­tant to come for­ward, ac­cord­ing to lead­ing WA ad­vo­cacy group Ad­vo­care.

A 2011 UWA study found the most com­mon re­ports of abuse were fi­nan­cial, fol­lowed by so­cial abuse.

Ad­vo­care ser­vice de­liv­ery man­ager Sharon Richards said el­derly peo­ple were of­ten too proud to re­port abuse.

“To ad­mit to be­ing abused is very tough,” she said.

Ms Richards said there was no typ­i­cal abuser, but per­pe­tra­tors were com­monly fam­ily mem­bers.

“The big­gest group of of­fend­ers are sons and daugh­ters. This year there are more daugh­ters but next year it could be sons,” she said.

Abuse some­times fol­lowed on from do­mes­tic abuse or an ex­pec­ta­tion of pay­ment for care or favours.

“There is a sense of en­ti­tle­ment for some,” she said.

For 72-year-old eastern sub­urbs res­i­dent Liz (not her real name), the death of her hus­band sparked a le­gal bat­tle over prop­erty with her daugh­ter.

“My daugh­ter took me to trial over my hus­band’s will,” she said.

Her two-hectare prop­erty had been home for sev­eral decades and her daugh­ter and son-in-law had lived in a granny flat ad­joined to the main house for more than 10 years.

Af­ter the death of her hus­band in Novem­ber 2011, Liz asked the cou­ple to in­crease their weekly rent pay­ments to $200.

“She and her hus­band re­fused and got very up­set, but soon com­ments and de­ci­sions were made (by my daugh­ter and son-in-law) to up­grade the house and I felt I couldn’t say no,” Liz said.

She even­tu­ally asked her daugh­ter and son-in-law to leave, hav­ing sought le­gal ad­vice. She was sub­poe­naed to court two weeks later.

Liz’s daugh­ter con­tested the will, say­ing her fa­ther had promised her money from the sale of the prop­erty.

“She said her fa­ther had promised to sell the house, pay me out and give her $500,000,” she said.

“It was out of the blue and no one knew any­thing about it.”

In Novem­ber last year, the case was set­tled and the court or­dered the daugh­ter to re­im­burse her mother $30,000.

“I wasn’t go­ing to lose my home for her ben­e­fit,” Liz said.

She said she wanted to tell her story to give other el­ders strength to rise up against un­just be­hav­iour.

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