2021: New South Wales
In late 2020, Justice Connect sought the assistance of Makinson d’Apice (Makdap) for a client – George – who was experiencing elder abuse. George had suddenly disappeared from his usual social outings and was located by police in a locked dementia ward. This made no sense to those who knew George to be an independent, capable member of the community.
Some years earlier, George made a will naming his niece – Barbara – as a beneficiary. Barbara was also appointed as George’s Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) and Enduring Guardian (EG), should George lose capacity to make decisions.
George and Barbara’s relationship subsequently deteriorated. At some point, Barbara organised and accompanied George to a series of doctor’s appointments and told him not to speak. Barbara told the doctors that George had developed dementia, which wasn’t the case.
George suspected that Barbara had ulterior motives such as trying to bring the EPOA and EG into effect and preventing George from removing Barbara from his will.
Once Barbara was in possession of medical reports to support her claim, she drove George to a locked dementia unit against his will.
Barbara took George’s phone book with his friends’ contact details and instructed staff that George wasn’t to have any visitors.
George’s friend, Sasha, located George with the assistance of police. She contacted the NSW Ageing & Disability Commission and Seniors Rights Service who referred the matter to Justice Connect.
George contested Barbara’s guardianship at three New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) hearings. At the first hearing, George was unrepresented and without his hearing aids. He wasn’t successful.
Erin Dawson, a Senior Associate at Makdap, represented George in the two subsequent NCAT hearings. She organised numerous independent medical reports from geriatricians. George, with the support of Erin and Sasha, was able to tell the truth of how he had been wrongfully locked in a dementia ward, deprived of his freedom and his wishes ignored.
NCAT removed Barbara as George’s guardian and determined that George has full capacity to make decisions about all aspects of his life.
George was released from the locked dementia unit in late 2021 and now lives in an open aged care facility which is close to his friends and community. George is free to come and go as he pleases – he can go for walks and meet with his friends and manage his affairs as he sees fit.
It was a privilege to represent George so that he can live out the remainder of his life with choice, freedom and dignity.
This story was submitted by Makinson d’Apice.