Seniors Festival 2018: On the road in NSW

Over the 12 days of 2018 NSW Seniors Festival, Seniors Rights Service participated in more than 40 community events throughout NSW. Here are some of the highlights:

Royal Easter Show
About 700 people dropped in when Seniors Rights Service held a stall on Seniors Day at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. Visitors were keen to ask questions, with legal inquiries referred to our free and confidential telephone advice line for further support, and advocate Ray Horsburgh answering queries on the rights of aged-care services recipients.

Northern Beaches
Northern Beaches Council held a Wellbeing Expo at Dee Why RSL, attended by more than 400 people. Seniors Rights Service was among the many community and government stalls, all offering specialist knowledge and on-the-spot assistance on a range of matters affecting seniors.

Western Sydney
Across the western suburbs, there was a range of lively events, with Nalika Padmasena, from our legal team, taking part in four to share information about Seniors Rights Service. In Blacktown, Planning Ahead With Seniors Rights Service was an engaging talk with lots of questions from 45 participants from diverse backgrounds. And the Blacktown Seniors Day Celebration on April 13 saw well over 300 people enjoy a colourful welcome from Aboriginal elder Uncle Sims, and entertainment including the Older Women’s Network theatre group, Blacktown Seniors Community Choir and Sri Lankan Seniors singing group and the Cooks Islands seniors dancing group. Line dancing, yoga, a drumming group and a laughter session added to the vibrancy. At Toongabbie Community Centre, the Sri Om Care Seniors Week celebration with South Asian communities attracted around 260 community members, while around 300 seniors and care workers joined the fun at the Sri Lanka Association Seniors Week Celebration at Dundas Community Centre.

Central West
Education manager Diana Bernard and our new regional advocate/educator Shanel Tighe took a road trip through the central west to help build awareness of our free and confidential services in the region. With Shanel now based in the central west, more people in the area will have better access to support from Seniors Rights Service.
Shanel spent a day at Dubbo Seniors Expo. Over 100 people visited the Seniors Rights Service stand to talk about the rights of older people, how to access aged-care services and how we can help them. This expo was a great opportunity for Shanel to meet other services and organisations, and connect with local residents. She enjoyed a chat with the two Jacks, both Dubbo locals (see picture), who, with some assistance, are still living in their own homes.
Diana worked with Shanel in Orange on a couple of lively discussions around Piano Forte. This DVD of a play exploring the mistreatment of older people allows people to open up about the issue and helps reduce the shame and stigma many people have about the difficult and complex issue of elder abuse.
Another Orange event was a dinner gathering of a large, interested Rotary group to discuss Seniors Rights Service and elder financial abuse. Diana also attended a community expo in Wellington and a community Aboriginal elders group to talk about the needs of older Aboriginal people and how our organisation can assist.

Advocate Jenny Samuels attended a morning tea at Computerpals Newcastle, a seniors computer group, where she presented an information session on our legal services, elder abuse, the advocate’s role in aged care/community care, and the My Aged Care portal. There was excellent feedback after the event and Computerpals Newcastle have posted a brief outline on their Facebook page and website.

Mid North Coast
Mid North Coast advocate Jill McDonnell participated in information sessions in libraries in Taree, Forster, Wingham, Tea Gardens, Hallidays Point and Harrington, which drew groups ranging from 10-25 people keen to find out about the legal, advocacy and education services available to them through Seniors Rights Service. On April 9, Jill was the go-to person at the Seniors Rights Service stand at the Hastings Port Macquarie Sensational Seniors Expo, a popular event attracting more than 1300 people and 84 stallholders.

North Coast
On April 5, at Lismore Regional Gallery, we hosted a panel discussion for older LGBTI people, with representatives from Dementia Australia, St Carthage’s Community Care, Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre and Seniors Rights Advocacy Service. Almost 40 members of the local community came along, as well as a number of service providers from ACON. Feedback was positive about the open conversations, honest answers and important discussion. A similar event for LGBTI people in the Hunter region is coming up on May 1 at Newcastle Museum.

South Coast
In the Illawarra, we attended two Seniors Week events, with the Seniors Rights Service table a popular stop at the Multicultural Fiesta and Expo at The Shellharbour Club, organised by the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra. Many of the 300 seniors at the event asked questions and took brochures on our aged-care and advocacy services. At the Koonawarra Community Centre, a lunch and information expo hosted by Careways Community capped off a busy fortnight of activities in the area.