Grassroots campaign to tackle inheritance impatience

Following the death of her husband, 85-year old Elka suffered a stroke that affected her physically, but not her determination to live independently and continue to be active within her church and local Greek community.


After COVID-19 struck, this all changed. Her social ties were cut off due to restrictions. A family member moved in and made life unbearable for her. Her adult children began to pressure her for increasingly larger sums of money. There was nowhere to turn. Elka felt trapped, alone, and afraid.


Elka’s story is one of many stories of older people who experience financial elder abuse, with over two-thirds of elder abuse cases involving financial abuse.


Ageism is a constant driving factor of elder abuse, made worse by lockdowns and social distancing and often perpetrated by loved ones.


“Elder abuse and ageism are linked.” said Dr Kay Patterson AO, Australian Human Rights Commission’s Age Discrimination Commissioner. “Ageist attitudes are often used to justify elder abuse, for example, adult daughters and sons who feel they have a right to their parents’ money or assets.”


“Elder abuse can happen to anyone, and it often happens in secret, but there is help available.” Dr Patterson said.


To bring greater awareness to this hidden issue, Southern Melbourne Primary Care Partnership’s Elder Abuse Prevention Network is supporting the Frankston Mornington Peninsula Respecting Senior’s Network’s Inheritance: Not an Entitlement campaign.


This campaign will be launched by Dr Kay Patterson, AO on 15 June, to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.


After referral to an elder abuse prevention support service, Elka received emotional and financial counselling and, through family meetings, has been able to recover some of her money from her adult children. She is now back living independently in her own home and is slowly reconnecting with her community.


Both the Southern Melbourne Elder Abuse Prevention Network and  Frankston Mornington Peninsula Respecting Seniors Network are part of a growing movement of organisations and individuals seeking to live and work in a community where people of all ages are respected and able live free from violence in all its forms. Nine elder abuse prevention networks are supported by the Victorian Government across the state.


6 June 2021.