Taking good care of yourself includes getting legal help

6 October 2014
As part of 2014 Victorian Seniors Festival celebrations, Justice Connect's Seniors Law service is encouraging older people to seek legal help.

Justice Connect Seniors Law has urged Victorian seniors not to be afraid to seek legal advice, even for what might seem at first like a trivial matter, during the 2014 Victorian Seniors Festival.

Seniors Law offers free legal help to older Victorians who can’t get legal assistance any other way, through connecting pro bono lawyers drawn from the Victorian legal community to those who need them.

“This year’s theme for the Victorian Seniors festival is ‘Taking good care of yourself’ and we say that includes contacting us if you’re a senior Victorian with a legal problem,” said Deborah Di Natale, Director of Legal Services. “We get hundreds of calls to our Seniors Law service each year from older Victorians struggling with legal issues, and we can help.”

Ms Di Natale urged senior Victorians to contact the service early, rather than letting problems develop: “Many problems can be resolved quickly and discreetly with the right approach, and early involvement and advice from our lawyers can mean a quicker resolution no matter what develops.”

Ms Di Natale said that common issues confronted by older people included those related to financial and property matters.

“We regularly help clients who have, for example, trusted a family member to manage their finances or contributed money towards a family member’s home.  This trust can be betrayed, with family members using the older person’s money for their own benefit. We recently assisted a client resolve an issue over the ownership of his home. His daughter had used a power of attorney to purchase a home for him but registered it in her name.  We negotiated with the daughter who acknowledged that the property had been purchased on trust for her father.  Our client is now able to sell the property and can move somewhere more suitable”.

“None of us want to see our older relatives mistreated – and we can help,” she explained.

Common issues dealt with by Seniors Law include property issues, credit and debt recovery, guardianship, tenancy and housing issues, and family law.

With a quarter of Victorians aged 60 plus, and an ageing population, the demand for lawyers experienced in assisting older Victorians is on the rise. Seniors Law is a leader in specialising in this area – at no cost for eligible clients.

CEO Fiona McLeay said the Justice Connect program brought together lawyers prepared to offer free legal help with those who can’t afford representation any other way: “While it is preferable that a service like Seniors Law was not needed, the sad fact is that we do – and we are fortunate to have a resilient pro bono workforce willing to assist some of our most vulnerable Victorians in their time of need.”

*More about the Justice Connect Seniors Law program is available here. Seniors Law will distribute postcards with information about the service through festival events and activities, and related service providers.

Media inquiries:                   Lauren Adamson, 03 8636 4417/ lauren.adamson@justiceconnect.org.au

Sari Baird 03 8636 4426 / sari.baird@justiceconnect.org.au