Older Persons ACT Legal Service (OPALS) is a specialist service within Legal Aid ACT which aims to provide legal assistance to older people in the Canberra region with legal problems. This can include issues involving elder abuse, enduring powers of attorney, guardianship and financial arrangements with family members. In addition, OPALS will provide appropriate referrals to other services as required.
We are a confidential legal service, and we will not take any action without your consent first. We are able to assist you by advocating on your behalf with your family or services, through letters or if necessary through mediation and court proceedings. We are very flexible with how we provide our service and understand that a legal issue does not always mean that you need to end up in court.
Please note, while we are able to provide limited advice about wills and estates, we do not assist in drafting or preparing wills.
The service has a particular interest in elder abuse, through early intervention, preventing elder abuse before it becomes a more serious issue. Like everyone else in the community, older people have a right to live safely and securely whether independently or if they are in the care of another person.
Elder Abuse is any act that causes harm or distress to an older person by someone they trust. It can include:
- physical violence such as slapping, hitting, pushing, sexually abusing or restraining you
- calling you names, threatening you, intimidating you, swearing and shouting at you or humiliating you
- pressuring you to hand over money, taking control of your money or property, or forcing you to sign things you don’t understand
- refusing to let you go out and do things and stopping contact with your family, friends or support services
- not giving you proper food, clothing or personal care. This can be intentional or unintentional.
We understand that elder abuse is a highly personal issue. This can prevent an older person experiencing abuse from taking any action. Also, neighbours, family, friends and carers may see or hear things that may make them concerned about the safety of an older person but not say anything out of fear for escalating the situation or because they feel they may be sticking their nose where it does not belong.
It is important to remember that help can always be found, particularly if you are suffering abuse. If you contact us because you are concerned about the welfare of an older person, we can inform you of the options that may be available if the older person wants to take action and how you can talk about these options with the older person.
You can contact the Older Persons ACT Legal Service (OPALS) on 6243 3436 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Factsheets and Resources
All of our factsheets are intended to be used as a guide only and not as legal advice. Please phone the Legal Aid Helpline 1300 654 314 if you need legal advice. See Legal Advice for more information.
We have developed a number of factsheets on the topic of elder abuse. These factsheets are tailored to individuals as well as community workers with clients who may be experiencing or at risk of elder abuse.