24 April 2013

Elderly coupleEmpowering elderly people to maintain the quality of their lives and not become victims of abuse and discrimination is one of the aims of a conference being held at the University of South Australia.

The Sixth Annual World Summit on Mediation with Age Related Issues is a joint venture between UniSA and the Elder Mediation International Network (EMIN), designed to increase awareness of the benefits of mediation, highlighting global examples of best practice in elder mediation.

Summit Co-Chair, Associate Professor Dale Bagshaw, points to Australia’s rapidly ageing population as a factor underlining the importance of elder mediation.

“Already age has replaced gender as the top discriminatory practice in the workplace, and with an ageing population there are going to be increased numbers of conflicts that will require third party intervention,” said Dr Bagshaw.

“The prevention of the financial abuse of older people by their adult children – another commonly reported practice, is also another area where mediation is of value and which could help older adults  put plans in place to safeguard their finances and other assets.

“The focus of elder mediation is on addressing concerns and issues while maintaining and strengthening the myriad of relationships critical to the well-being of the older person.

“I am delighted that this summit is happening as there is a lot of ignorance among the community, the professions and the elderly population about what mediation can offer to people as they grow older.

“Mediators can assist older adults to have difficult conversations, make decisions and resolve conflicts and it can also be a preventative strategy where there is the potential for abuse or neglect."

Speakers from around the world and from a range of professions will examine what elder mediation involves, international best practices, older adults’ experiences of mediation, the abuse of older people, human rights and ethical practice, issues for older people in care and the issue of capacity - where older people have dementia or other cognitive impairments which impact on their decision-making.

One presenter will look at the conflicts that grandparents become embroiled in when their adult children separate or divorce, which can lead to struggles over contact or loss of contact with their grandchildren.

“UniSA runs programs which train people to develop skills in mediation and conflict resolution and these are becoming increasingly necessary in today’s environment,” added Dr Bagshaw.

The three day summit, which will take place from April 29 – May 1 at City West Campus, is the first of its kind to be held in Australia.

Contact:  Associate Professor Dale Bagshaw 0408 805641

Media contact: Will Venn office 8302 0965 email Will.Venn@unisa.edu.au

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