What is elder abuse and how to stop it

Rates of elder abuse are on the rise in Australia.

Protecting the older members of our community is so important, but sadly the rates of elder abuse are on the rise in Australia. 

RACQ’s Financial Wellbeing team interviewed Principal Investigations Officer Vanessa Connolly from the Office of the Public Guardian to understand what elder abuse is and what supports are available. 

What is elder abuse and who can it impact?

Elder abuse is increasing across the country and is characterised as a single or repeated act or a lack of appropriate action that causes harm or distress to an older person.

Elder abuse can be seen in multiple forms, including physical, psychological, financial, sexual or neglect.

Elder abuse often occurs within families and between generations, but it can also be inflicted by third-party carers or other parties that the older person has placed a level of trust in. 

What should I do if I suspect an elder is being abused?

If you’re concerned for someone’s immediate physical safety due to violence, we recommend calling 000. 

If it is not an urgent or life-threatening situation, the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit is often the best first step – you can contact them via the Elder Abuse Helpline on 1300 651 192. They will help you understand what is occurring and suggest appropriate referral pathways. 

What is the Office of the Public Guardian’s role when it comes to elder abuse?

We can investigate all types of elder abuse if the person in question is identified as having impaired decision making capacity (for example dementia or Alzheimer’s disease).

If someone is concerned about the welfare of an adult who has impaired decision making capacity, they can contact us directly to report the abuse.