Skip to main content

Annual Report


Always was, Always will be, Aboriginal land

Seniors Rights Service recognises and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as Australia’s First Nations Peoples and their ongoing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to Elders – past, present and emerging.

Welcome to the 2022-2023 Annual Report of Seniors Rights Service. We take immense pride in our accomplishments throughout the year, continuing to support older people to know their rights and be empowered to assert these rights by providing free specialist legal services, aged care advocacy and information across the breadth of New South Wales.
Within this report, we showcase our initiatives during the 2022-2023 financial year, demonstrating growth in our expertise, services and team. We are excited about our future direction and the impact we aim to make.

This online version of our Annual Report is intended as an executive summary to improve accessibility and transparency. You can view and download the full report at the base of this page.

Seniors Rights Service supports older people to know their rights and be empowered to assert these rights by providing free specialist legal services, aged care advocacy and information across the breadth of NSW. We are a not for profit community organisation that is independent of government and has been supporting older people for over 36 years.

Our Vision

A society that respects and upholds the rights of older people

Our Purpose

The purpose of Seniors Rights Service is to raise awareness and empower older people to activate, uphold, extend and defend their individual rights. We foster communities to respect and value seniors and their rights. We achieve our purpose by providing accessible and confidential legal services, aged care advocacy and information.

Our Service Principles

In all of its endeavours, Seniors Rights Service will:

  • empower older people as rights holders and active contributors to society
  • provide high quality, appropriate and timely services
  • provide equitable access to services for seniors, regardless of race, nationality or ethnic origin, gender, marital status, disability, religion, political beliefs, sexual preference or any other characteristic
  • support capacity development of staff to ensure they can deliver high quality services
  • collaborate with other organisations in pursuit of common goals
  • work with broader civil society to foster respect for older members of society and their individual rights.

Our Priority Populations

  • Seniors Rights Service prioritises engagement with older people who:
  • are disadvantaged and vulnerable
  • are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • reside in regional, rural and remote locations
  • are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or other

Seniors Rights Service is a proud member of:

At a glance

Our services

Total enquiries






Intake referrals


Aged care Navigator


Community engagement


Community network


From March 2023

Financial advocacy


Since February 2023

Home Care Check In


Since December 2022

Social media and website

Facebook followers


Linkedin followers


Instagram followers


Twitter followers


Website visitors


Our board

Seniors Rights Service thanks all our Board members for their guidance and thoughtful contributions over the year. Ours is a voluntary Board and we acknowledge the time they generously give to the organisation.

Margaret Duckett, President, retired

Margaret has held various senior roles including Director of the NSW Office of Ageing. Her career has been primarily in the health and social sectors, building on her science background in terms of health promotion, advocacy and policy development. Margaret has extensive experience in government and political processes, and strategic policy development and implementation.

Margaret retired from the Board in November 2022.

Hakan Harman, Chairperson

Hakan is the Chief Operating Officer of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, he holds a Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Commerce, is a Fellow of CPA Australia and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Hakan has over 30 years experience as a senior executive across public, commercial and not for profit sectors. He has a strong community focus, commitment to social and cultural justice and a deep passion for sustainability, inclusive leadership and social cohesion.

Hakan was appointed as the Chairperson in June 2023.

Elaine Leong, Deputy Chairperson

A career governance and legal professional to the for-purpose sector, Elaine holds a portfolio of professional, pro bono and volunteer roles. Elaine is the general counsel and company secretary of Australia’s oldest charity, The Benevolent Society, and partner in a boutique law firm with a focus on making the law accessible to individuals, families and charities.

Elaine served as Interim Chairperson from November 2022 to June 2023.

Barbara Anderson

Barbara’s professional background is in health information management and she has extensive experience in ageing and the care of older people. At NSW Health, her roles included principal policy adviser in the Aged Care Unit, Health and Social Policy Branch. Barbara also ran her own business as a quality improvement, accreditation.

Andrew Byrnes

Andrew is Emeritus Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, an associate of the Ageing Futures Institute and the Australian Human Rights Institute at UNSW, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and of the Australian Academy of Law. His publications address women’s human rights, human rights of older persons, gender and human rights, national human rights institutions, economic and social rights, peoples’ tribunals, and the incorporation of human rights in domestic law. He has served as President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law and Vice-President of the Asian Society of International Law, as well as external legal adviser to the Australian Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and as a member of the Human Rights Committees of the NSW Bar Association and the Law Council of Australia. He has acted as pro bono adviser to the Asia Pacific Forum of NHRIs in the context of the United Nations General Assembly Open-ended Working Group on Ageing. He has also acted as a consultant to the UN on human rights on various human rights issues, including most recently on the human rights of older persons and the international human rights framework.

Ross Halfacree

Ross has held senior roles in both government and corporate sectors, most recently with large US, Danish and Swedish medical device manufacturers. Primary roles have involved business strategy design, risk management, sales and marketing strategies. Ross is on the fundraising and marketing sub-committee of Odyssey House, and supports his local community with pro-bono mentorship and coaching for small businesses and individuals. 

Ross resigned from the Board in August 2022.

Rob Lake

Rob has worked and volunteered in the NSW community sector for over 30 years since arriving from New Zealand in 1987. He has worked in community development, service delivery, policy and advocacy. Rob has a passion for advocacy and for Home Care programs and services that support older people to live well at home and in their communities. Rob has been a Director of the AIDS Trust of Australia, NCOSS, Active Job Services as well as Parramatta and Marrickville Legal Centre.

Rob resigned from the Board in May 2023.

Barbara O’Neill

Barbara is a proud Weil Wan/Dunghutti woman born on the Gadigal Country of the Eora Nation.

She is an Indigenous Trauma and Recovery Practitioner and specialises in the support of care leavers from institutions and people in the prison system. Barbara sits on the Walama List of the District Court of NSW assisting His Honour Judge Warwick Hunt in her role of Respected Other Person.

Barbara also consults with the Burdekin Association in regard to Indigenous Young People in Out of Home Care.
‘Untold Stories’, her DVD and presentation at the 5th National Elder Abuse Conference, provided a unique perspective on the impacts of ageing on Aboriginal people.

It draws on research undertaken through her recently completed Post-Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Trauma Recovery and Practice at Wollongong University. Barbara has completed a Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledges.

Chairperson and CEO Report

For the first three quarters of the 2022 – 2023 financial year, we continued to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on older people across NSW. The Omicron wave impacted people living in aged care, their families and loved ones through lockdowns and staff shortages across the sector. Seniors Rights Service met the challenges by providing online meetings for residents and loved ones that brought together the aged care providers, including their CEOs and care staff, local public health units and primary health networks.

These meetings were also attended by the Federal Deputy Chief Medical Officer and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission so that residents and loved ones could ask the questions they needed answers for directly to the facility, with professionals on hand to answer systemic questions about the lockdown periods and closure environment. For the final quarter of this financial year, we were able to access many more facilities face-to-face to deliver rights-based information sessions, and we look forward to continuing in-person sessions in the future.

Fundamental to reform is the need for the new Aged Care Act to be grounded in human rights principles. Seniors Rights Service has been a vital partner in these critical discussions, strongly advocating for the rights of older people to be enshrined in the new Aged Care Act. Seniors Rights Service firmly believes that there is a need for the government to guarantee an adequate workforce to ensure that quality of life and care are available for all older people. An aged care transformation sparked by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild the sector to prioritise the rights of older people.

Seniors Rights Service has grown significantly, and we have increased the size of our advocacy and legal teams, with the addition of financial advocacy specialists and community development network officers, as well as a pilot project working to ‘Check In’ on isolated and vulnerable older people who are not currently connected to services that can support them at home. This growth has significantly increased the number of people we are supporting, both in residential home care settings and at home. In addition, our legal services have expanded to include a Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence solicitor working across the sector to provide expert legal advice and support.

Seniors Rights Service supported 17,130 older people across NSW this year.


We provided individual advocacy and information to 10,098 older people. We delivered 1,867 information and education sessions across NSW to increase knowledge and awareness of older people’s rights and ensure that issues such as scams and financial abuse were front and centre in older people’s minds. This included our signature event, Info Bingo, held in Armidale, where 250 older people attended a day of information that bought bingo, socialising and lots of information to older people and increased their knowledge and awareness about their rights, scams and how to safeguard themselves against abuse and exploitation. This event was incredibly well received, and we will extend it to each region across NSW.

Our legal services gave advice and information to 2,485 older people in this reporting period. Seniors Rights Legal Service provides individual legal advice for older people across NSW about guardianship and consumer matters before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and superior courts. We also offer legal assistance through people appointed as an Enduring Power of Attorney or decision-maker appointed by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal so that the views and wishes of the older person could be met.

The Seniors Rights Legal Service engaged with community groups and organisations to raise awareness of people’s rights and responsibilities under the law, provided comment and advocacy for systemic change to improve the laws of New South Wales and represented clients in strategic litigation. Much of our litigation was in the Supreme Court Equity Division, seeking to return ownership of residential property fraudulently taken from an older person by their adult children.

This year, Seniors Rights Service has also supported residents and families from 19 aged care services that have been sanctioned or received a Notice to Agree due to a serious risk assessment by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. In addition, we have supported residents and families of 13 aged care homes that have closed this year.

Hakan Harman

Shannon Wright
Chief Executive Officer 

We take this opportunity to thank our funding bodies – The Older Persons Advocacy Network through the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, Legal Aid NSW, the NSW Department of Communities and Justice, and NSW Fair Trading.

Our sincere thanks go to the Seniors Rights Service team for their ongoing flexibility and passion for supporting older people and to our Board Members who continue to give willingly to provide strong governance for us. Thank you all for your commitment to upholding and exercising the rights of older people across NSW. We are so very proud of the work you do every day to improve older people’s lives.

Hakan Harman, Chairperson

Shannon Wright, CEO

Aged Care Advocacy

Seniors Rights Service provides free, confidential and independent information and individual advocacy support to older people and their representatives. Through service provision, older people are empowered to self-advocate or receive assistance to understand their aged care rights and ensure they are recognised and upheld.
Aged care advocates respond to requests for information and support related to aged care services. We do this in a way that the older person can understand and then provide the appropriate information to the older person, which allows them to defend their rights either by empowering and guiding them to self-advocate or by being their voice. Advocates are often called upon to assist older people in protecting their rights by speaking up on their behalf.
Seniors Rights Service Aged Care Advocates provide information provision and individual advocacy support to equip older people with knowledge and awareness of the role of advocacy and how to self-advocate to address their aged care needs and issues. Information and advocacy options include understanding individuals’ aged care rights and responsibilities, support to engage with My Aged Care, aged care service providers, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and aid in providing supported decision-making about the care they receive.
The difference advocacy makes is very significant for the older person. To have someone who is on your side, someone who is independent of the aged care provider and who can explain the often puzzling complexities of the aged care system and how to negotiate is an essential right for older people. Callers often feel overwhelmed by poor communication or lack of responses to issues they have raised. Advocates can improve engagement and communication with the older person’s aged care providers so that their problems can be addressed.
Information and advocacy also provide increased access and connection to relevant services and ensure the older person’s wishes and choices are respected and upheld.

Our service has a commitment to the following principles:

Inclusion: All seniors across NSW should have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the services, programs and activities of Seniors Rights Service.

Respect: Seniors Rights Service will respect the beliefs, cultures, languages and issues faced by older people across NSW and ensure our services, programs and activities reflect this diversity.

Access: Seniors Rights Service will ensure that older people have the opportunity to access its services, programs and activities and will endeavor to remove any barriers identified.

Recognition: Seniors Rights Service recognises the importance of diversity as fundamental to the development of an inclusive organisation that is highly valued by the communities it serves.

Advocating for Fundamental Reforms

At the heart of our mission is the need for the new Aged Care Act to be rooted in human rights principles. Seniors Rights Service has played an instrumental role in these discussions, strongly advocating for the rights of older people to be firmly embedded in the new Act. We firmly believe that the government must ensure an adequate workforce to guarantee the quality of life and care for older people. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild the aged care sector and place the rights of older individuals at the centre.

Throughout the year, we actively provided input and feedback to the government during the development of the new Aged Care Act, ensuring that the issues and challenges older people face in New South Wales are heard and addressed. As the Act continues to be developed, Seniors Rights Service is committed to offering ongoing feedback, asking pertinent questions, and ensuring that the Act remains fit for purpose. We will continue to promote and support consultations with older people in New South Wales, ensuring that their voices and experiences shape aged care reforms.

This outreach is further facilitated through our presence on social media channels, participation in events, and conducting surveys.

Engagement and Collaboration

Seniors Rights Service has actively participated in various key groups and alliances to advocate for the rights and needs of older people. We are proud to be a member of the Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW) Women’s Alliance Group, the Department of Justice’s Older Person and People with Disability Reference Group, the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) Policy Systemic Advocacy and Advisory Group, and Community Legal Centres NSW’s Law Reform Network and Community Legal Education Working Group.

Through these memberships and active involvement in working groups, Seniors Rights Service champions the issues faced by older individuals, utilising the expertise and knowledge of our teams to seek systematic solutions and policy reforms. In the fiscal year 2022-2023, our policy work included:

  • Contributing to draft action plans in support of the National Plan to end violence against women and children.
  • Advocating for coercive control.
  • Family law reforms.
  • Specialised training for frontline workers to better support victim-survivors.

Our contributions have consistently centred around the needs of older women and individuals, especially those from regional, rural, and CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) communities. We emphasise the importance of addressing ageism and its intersections in creating policies and laws that work for citizens of all ages.

Election Platform and Ongoing Advocacy

Seniors Rights Service is a member of the NSW Women’s Alliance which launched its 2023 State Election Platform, “Action to End Gendered Violence,” in August 2022. This campaign calls on the NSW Parliament to act decisively against gendered violence and create safe spaces for all through seven key commitments. Our advocacy and policy work on these commitments continued post-election, with Seniors Rights Service persistently voicing concerns, particularly concerning elder abuse, to Ministers and Commissioners.

Supporting and Promoting

In addition to our core advocacy efforts, we have actively promoted and supported various campaigns, including:

  • A new UN Convention on the Human Rights of Older Persons.
  • Age-friendly communities
  • Ageism Awareness Day.
  • Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
  • Aged Care Reform.
  • Dying to Know Day.
  • Aged Care Employee Day.
  • Recognising elder abuse.
  • Challenging ageism.
  • Aged Care Council of Elders.
  • NAIDOC Week, “For Our Elders”.
  • Aged care knowledge development opportunities.


Full financials


Read the full report


Skip to content