Elder Abuse National Research Strengthening the Evidence Base – Stage One

Current project

This project will develop an evidence-based, nationally acceptable and usable definition of elder abuse.

Observations from the consultations

Dr Rachel Carson, Australian Institute of Family Studies' Senior Research Fellow, recently presented fieldwork observations on developing the Australian definition of elder abuse for research purposes. Participants at the Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) annual conference in Cairns heard about the themes which emerged from the consultations. View the presentation slides from the FRSA conference here.

View the Presentation at FRSA Conference [PDF 3.8 MB]

AIFS has been commissioned by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department to conduct the Elder Abuse National Research Strengthening the Evidence Base – Stage One project. 

This project is designed to build on the existing empirical work carried out by AIFS in the Elder Abuse Scoping Study. 

The project comprises three components, specifically:

  • Component One – working in conjunction with the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) to engage with key stakeholders to develop a nationally accepted and usable Australian definition of elder abuse
  • Component Two – working with the Social Research Centre (SRC) to develop and test instruments to measure elder abuse against the Australian definition
  • Component Three – working with the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) to develop a data analysis plan and conduct secondary data analysis to answer key research questions on elder abuse. 

The project will commence with a series of workshops across Australia with key stakeholders and professionals in this field. This will be followed by a number of surveys with the elder community, general public and service providers to refine the definition of elder abuse, which will inform component three which aims to develop a comprehensive picture of the contexts, dynamics and risk factors associated with elder abuse by interrogating existing data sources.

Frequently asked questions 

Elder Abuse National Research Project

What is the purpose of the research project?

The purpose of the project is to:

  • develop a rigorous Australian definition of the term ‘elder abuse’ or ‘abuse of older people’
  • test data collection tools to measure the abuse of older people against the agreed definition
  • develop a data analysis plan and complete data analysis of defined Australian Bureau of Statistics data sets to answer key research questions about the abuse of older people.  

Why is the project necessary?

Elder abuse may include the physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse or neglect of an older person by another person in a position of trust, and presents a range of complex challenges for the Australian community. 

As older people make up an increasing proportion of the Australian population the potential reach of the abuse of older abuse may grow. To protect older people from abuse, we must first be able to identify and measure the extent of the problem. This research project will help work out how elder abuse should be measured in Australia. 

Who is doing the research?

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has overall responsibility for the research project. AIFS is partnering with the Social Research Centre, the Social Policy Research Centre and the National Ageing Research Institute to deliver three different components of the research project. 

Who is funding the research?

The Australian Government’s Attorney-General’s Department has commissioned and funded this research project. 

When will the project be complete?

Work on The Elder Abuse National Research Project will be completed by the end of October 2018. A report on each component will be submitted to the Attorney-General’s Department for consideration. 

Who will be consulted as part of the research?

Service providers, advocates, community organisations, policy makers and affected individuals or communities will be consulted as part of the project. 


The Elder Abuse National Research Project team

Email: eanr@aifs.gov.au

Telephone: (03) 9214 7865

Project in a nutshell


Senior Research Fellow (currently on secondment)
Senior Research Fellow, Manager – Family Law and Family Violence (Acting)


August 2017 – October 2018

Funding sources

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