John’s Story

My name is Thomas, I live in Victoria. I was concerned about my uncle, John. I knew he’d been unwell, and I was worried after his daughter Karen suddenly moved him to Tasmania.

Uncle John was hospitalised last year. During this time Karen had him sign some documents. Uncle John didn’t remember what the documents were but didn’t think it mattered.

Whilst he was in hospital, Karen had sold his home as well as her own and purchased a remote property in regional Tasmania. My mum and aunt made a trip to Tasmania to visit him and check he was settled in. What they saw shocked them - Uncle John was unable to have any conversations, phone calls or visits without Karen present. She controlled his finances and didn’t allow him to leave the house. They’d seen Karen being abusive to Uncle John, using physical threats with her fist and making verbal threats to put him into a nursing home. Uncle John was not accessing any home or post-hospital care services. Karen would not allow an aged care assessment and went to all his medical appointments with him. John said he was scared and in need of additional medical care.

As they were leaving, he told his sisters he wanted to go home with them, but Karen overheard and stepped into the room making threats.

My mum and aunt protested but it was no use – they returned home worried and not knowing what to do next.

I wanted to know what I could do to help my uncle, so I called the Elder Abuse Helpline.

The Helpline worker listened to my concerns. We talked about the right of older persons to make their own decisions if they have capacity to do so. I didn’t think Uncle John’s capacity was impaired, and it worried me that Karen was making decisions for him.

We discussed the Senior Assist service at Legal Aid, older person’s advocacy through Advocacy Tasmania, and a Community Social Worker referral.

The option of a police welfare check was also discussed. I checked and there was neither an Enduring Power of Attorney nor Enduring Guardianship registered in either state.

My mother, aunt and I travelled to Tasmania shortly after and requested a police escort where we negotiated for Uncle John to leave and return to Victoria with us. Karen was angry –it was clear the Police were there to protect John’s rights.

We assisted Uncle John’s move into a unit close to us all. He is much happier, getting home help, and sees family and friends regularly. We’ve managed to get most of his money back from Karen. Uncle John still has the contact details for Senior Assist, as he’s still deciding about getting more legal advice on the situation.

To ask questions or for more information call the Helpline on 1800 441 169.

Elder Abuse Tasmania