This report provides an overview of elder abuse in Australia - including its characteristics, context, and prevention. First, it considers definitional issues and what is known about prevalence and incidence, risk and protective factors, and the dynamics surrounding disclosure and reporting. The report then sets out evidence on the demographic and socio-economic features of the Australian community that are relevant to understanding social dynamics that may influence elder abuse, including intergenerational wealth transfer and the systemic structures that intersect with elder abuse. Lastly, the report considers legislative and service responses and Australian and overseas approaches to prevention.
Dr Rae Kaspiew is a Senior Research Fellow and Dr Rachel Carson is a Research Fellow, both at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Professor Helen Rhoades is an academic from the Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne.
Views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and may not reflect those of the Australian Institute of Family Studies or the Australian Government.
This report was commissioned and funded by the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department (AGD).
The authors would like to acknowledge the support and assistance provided by the AGD, in particular by AGD officers Emma Swinbourne and Genevieve Schulz, and to thank the Australian Bankers Association (ABA) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for their contributions to this research.
We also extend our thanks to the AIFS librarian Carole Jean for her research assistance and to our editor Lan Wang for her invaluable assistance, including for her insight and attention to detail in editing this report.
We would also like to thank Anne Hollonds, Director of AIFS, and Associate Professor Daryl Higgins, Deputy Director (Research), together with AIFS Assistant Director, Ruth Weston, and Senior Research Fellow, Dr Lixia Qu, for their advice and support throughout this research.
An earlier version of this report was published on the Attorney-General’s Department’s website.
Correction (2 November 2018)
In one instance in an earlier version of this report, on page 46 of the PDF, it is stated: “Evidence about prevalence in Australia is lacking, though if international indications provide any guidance, it is likely that between 2% and 10% of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, with the prevalence of neglect possibly higher. “ This should have read “…it is likely that between 2% and 14% of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year…”
Cover photo: © iStockphoto/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Support services are available if you want to talk to someone about elder abuse.