“From this time on in Australia, elder abuse will no longer be someone else’s problem and I am committed to working with [organisations] to eradicate it in our community,” Mr Porter told a conference assembled in Sydney.

What Does Elder Abuse Look Like?

Elder abuse can be defined as the single or repeated act, or lack of action occurring within any relationships where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person. Elder abuse can take many forms such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse.

One of the more prominent and concerning forms of elder abuse is financial abuse, being the illegal or improper use of an older person’s property or finances. Examples of financial abuse include your pension being skimmed or money taken from your bank account, your belongings sold without permission, your money or property being taken improperly through the misuse of an Enduring Power of Attorney, and being denied access to or control of your own funds.

Another prominent form of elder abuse is psychological abuse, which can include a carer intimidating, humiliating or harassing an elderly person, being threatened physically and/or emotionally, being restrained from seeing family or friends, and being denied the right to make your own decisions.

Other forms of elder abuse include neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse. It is important to be on the lookout for signs for any of these warning signs, and ensure to alert the appropriate individual (which can be carer staff, family members etc). For more information, please see the guidelines of responding to elder abuse on the elder abuse hotline. 

While anecdotal evidence of elder abuse is abundant, there remains a lack of concrete statistics on the extent of the problem. Future research is needed to provide updated and appropriate tools to assist in identifying abuse of older people. This will be a priority of Attorney-General Porter, who believes that we don’t currently have a detailed and in-depth picture of the problem in Australia.