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Elder Abuse Mediation Program Could be Modeled after Child Custody Program

Tuesday, March, 6, 2018

The mediation program used to help end child custody disputes in the Australian legal system could be used as the basis to settle elder abuse disputes.  The original program was created to help with complex disputes between parents and has been wildly successful, setting at least 80 percent of cases that have utilized the program. 


According to National Legal Aid chairman Graham Hill, the model could be used in certain elder care cases.  There is especially promise in cases of parents preventing grandparents from seeing grandchildren or when financial issues have arisen our of shared property arrangements.


The proposal to use the program as a model comes as the result of demanding for more funding for civil law matters related to elder abuse for the legal aid commission.  According to Hill, “[Mediation] is so much better than court because court destroys relationships …whereas mediation tries to enhance relationships in a family setting.  We have put to the attorney general’s department that this service could be applied to cases of elder abuse, which can be quite sensitive with family involved”.


Cases that have arisen regarding elder abuse range from issues with violence to disputes regarding finances to grandchild visitation rights.  According to Australia’s family court system, grandparents do have rights, but those rights only operate in theory until legal aid can help grandparents get a court order. 


The mediation plan would create consistency for resolving these matters and set standards for things like powers of attorney.  At the moment, there has a lot of discrepancy from region to region regarding logistical and procedural matters.