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Grassroots campaign to tackle the inheritance entitlement myth

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 close to
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, Age Discrimination Commissioner in
the Australian Human Rights Commission. “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.”

The Frankston Mornington Peninsula Respecting Senior’s Network’s Inheritance: Not an Entitlement
campaign aims to bring greater awareness to this hidden issue.

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

Following being referred to an elder abuse prevention support service, Elka has 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.