As we enter July and a new financial year, there are so many positive, exciting, and transformative things happening within Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria, Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV), and within the ageing well space in our state.
There are also many concerning developments that will have a profound impact on older Victorians impacted by elder abuse within our communities.
As I detailed as part of a media release issued 29 June 2023, confirmed funding cuts by the Victorian State Government for SRV meant that we had to let several staff members go at the end of June. As stated in the release, this does jeopardise SRV’s effectiveness in the fight against elder abuse, putting older Victorians at further risk as the need for our services escalates at an alarming rate.
This causes a domino-like blowout in live telephone support, callbacks, and appointments with our casework team. Headline statements, data, and evidence-based figures to note are:
- A 39% increase in calls to our Helpline since this time last year.
- 3500 calls received to the Helpline in the 2021/2022 reporting period.
- 5400 calls received to the Helpline in the 2022/2023 reporting period.
- If the current growth in demand continues, we are heading for almost 8000 calls annually. If so, our ability to respond to the growing demand, based on the current trajectory, could represent close to 2000 older Victorians we may not be able to assist between July 2023 and June 2024.
- One (1) human being is servicing the state-wide Helpline as of 1 July 2023.
- SRV is already at breaking point.
- We already cannot meet the current level of demand from the community.
- We will not be able to maintain our current 24-hour turnaround target for triaging and responding to calls from 1 July.
- The current 4-5 week waiting period for a member of our legal team to respond will blowout to several months in a very short space of time.
It’s important to note that COTA Victoria and SRV are extremely grateful for the fantastic support the Victorian Government have provided us from the release of the state budget on 23 May 2023. It is the first time both COTA Victoria and SRV have received four-year funding terms from the State Government’s Department of Family, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) in our history. The major concern was the failure to renew a previously received ‘one-off’ funding grant to fill the urgent increase in Helpline calls to SRV over the preceding 12-months. As you would appreciate, that urgent need increased exponentially, as detailed in that stats above.
You will see an increase in advocacy, community, and public engagement from COTA Victoria, SRV, and me as we continue to work closely with the State Government to address this urgent gap in funding. I’m pleased to confirm that senior representatives from government have been most helpful and willing to work with us to address these serious issues. At the end of the day, we’re all employed to serve the community and older people in urgent need of our unique program and legal services.
COTA Victoria & Seniors Rights Victoria