Elder abuse: Recent research and effective responses

Elder abuse: Recent research and effective responses

Rachel Carson, Melanie Joosten, Anita Frayman and Gary Ferguson

This webinar presented observations from a recent scoping study and discussed effective practice responses in relation to elder abuse.

Elder abuse: Recent research and effective responses

This webinar was held on 24 October 2016.

A full recording of this webinar is available on our YouTube Channel.

The audio, transcript and presentation slides are available under Event Resources on this page.

Elder abuse—which involves the physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse of an older person by someone in a trusted relationship—presents complex challenges to the Australian community. 

While more research is needed to better understand its prevalence and dynamics in Australia, available evidence indicates that elder abuse occurs mostly within families and between generations. A recent scoping study also indicates that the incidence of elder abuse is likely to rise in Australia due to increased life expectancy and an ageing population. 

This webinar presented observations from recent studies on elder abuse. Key elements of effective responses for practitioners working with older people who have been abused or mistreated were discussed, and the importance of considering ageist attitudes and family dynamics that may be involved, and the right of the older person to seek redress, were highlighted. Important gaps in these responses where further research can be directed were also covered.

This event was presented in partnership with the Greater Melbourne Family Law Pathways Network.

Please take a moment to read our Webinar Frequently Asked Questions.

About the presenters

Rachel Carson

Dr Rachel Carson is a socio-legal researcher with expertise in family law and qualitative research about family law disputes. After practising as a family lawyer, Rachel worked as a researcher in family law at the Melbourne Law School (University of Melbourne) and was awarded a Melbourne Research Scholarship to undertake her PhD in this field of research at the University of Melbourne.


Since joining the Family Law and Family Violence team at the Australian Institute of Family Studies in June 2012, Rachel has worked on a range of projects, including the Independent Children’s Lawyer Study and the Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments Project. Rachel was the lead researcher on the recently completed Children and Young People in Separated Families: Family Law System Experiences and Needs project, together with the Institute’s Direct Cross-examination in Family Law Matters Study.


Rachel has contributed to the Institute’s elder abuse scoping studies and is currently working on the Elder Abuse National Research - Strengthening the Evidence Base - Stage 1 research program commissioned by the Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department.


Rachel is a consulting editor for the Family Law Review journal and has represented the Institute in various capacities, including as the AIFS observer on the Family Law Council, a body that provides policy advice on family law to the Commonwealth Attorney-General.

Melanie Joosten

Melanie Joosten is a research officer at the National Ageing Research Institute. Her recent projects include an action plan to address elder abuse in Victoria, research into the outcomes of elder abuse interventions with Seniors Rights Victoria, and a beyondblue-funded study regarding depression and anxiety in older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Melanie holds a Master of Social Work and also works as a writer. Her most recent book is A Long Time Coming: Essays on Old Age.

Anita Frayman

Dr Anita Frayman practises as an elder mediator, facilitator and aged care consultant. Anita’s interest in aged care includes cultural diversity, intergenerational conflict, elder abuse and the social and support networks of older people.  Anita is a nationally accredited mediator, qualified lawyer and an adjunct researcher at Monash University. She is a member of the executive of the Australian Association of Gerontology (Vic) and the Aged Care Policy Committee of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (EECV), the EECV Elder Abuse Project steering committee and other related professional networks.

Gary Ferguson

Gary Ferguson has worked in Community Education and Training for the last 20 years and has extensive experience in delivering programs. Since May 2008 he has been establishing the Community Education Program for Seniors Rights Victoria. He has also been responsible for the delivery of professional education sessions to professionals and workers in the health, community, aged care and associated sectors. Recently he organised and co-ordinated the program of presentations for the 4th National Elder Abuse Conference held in Melbourne.

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