Choosing the right powers of attorney and the right people to appoint is important, as these are legal documents that let someone nominate another person who can make decisions for them.

The decisions of someone who has power of attorney will have the same legal force as if the person who appointed them had made them, which is why it is essential to know what this act entails.

A project that aims to increase the understanding and use of enduring powers of attorney in Victoria’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities is being introduced by the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) as part of Law Week 2016. A powers of attorney information session especially for the Greek community will take place on Friday 20 May at the Australian Welfare Society (AGWS) headquarters.

“Powers of attorney are very common among members of the Greek community,” AGWS coordinator of Family and Community Services Unit Dimitra Lagoudaki tells Neos Kosmos.

“Unfortunately, not enough information is provided in Greek for the older members of the community and their carers.

“This session will explain in both Engish and Greek how to appoint enduring powers of attorney in Victoria to plan for decisions about financial, legal, personal or medical matters if you become unable to make them yourself.”

The project, funded by the Victoria Law Foundation, is inspired by a report of the Victorian Multicultural Commission that investigated the barriers for CALD communities in understanding and making powers of attorney. The Greek community has been selected based on 2011 Census data that shows Australian citizens of Hellenic background rank within the top three communities for numbers of people with low English proficiency in the age group 55 years and older.

Joining forces with the AGWS, OPA will develop and trial a model for providing members of CALD communities with culturally sensitive powers of attorney information, and for assisting members of ethnic background to complete such acts.

“The model developed will be offered as a pilot to members of the Greek community, ensuring there is enough information for people who either wish or need to appoint substitute decision makers,” Ms Lagoudaki explains.

“In Australia, powers of attorney can be made online and are cost-free. People need to know that they can save on solicitor fees and skip the back and forth bureaucracy.”

Information will be provided in English and explained by Greek translators, regarding the different types of these authorisations in Victoria and how to choose the right one for specific needs.

The session will cover general powers of attorney; enduring powers of attorney; medical powers of attorney; financial and supportive powers of attorney.

“Enduring powers can be used to plan for the future for when a person can’t make decisions for themselves due to accident or illness,” Ms Lagoudaki continues.

“The general non-enduring power of attorney is mostly used for a specific purpose and a fixed period of time. It is not enduring and again, a lot of people don’t know that they can terminate a power of attorney.”

Speakers from the OPA will also guide attendees and will explain the benefits of supportive attorney appointments, for persons able to make various decisions, provided they have support to make and act on their decisions.

“If a person has a disability and cannot make decisions for themselves, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) can appoint a guardian or administrator,” she notes.

“This will ensure there is a trustworthy advocate to make personal, lifestyle, financial and legal decisions on that person’s behalf.”

RSVP is necessary by Monday 16 May. For further information call 9388 9998

When: Friday 20 May, 10.00 am-12 noon (light lunch included)
On Thursday 19 May, an Open Day will take place at OPA, especially for CALD workers and ethno-specific organisations.
Where: Australian Greek Welfare Society, 7 Union Street, Brunswick, VIC