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Elder abuse

Discrimination Age Discrimination
Elderly lady looking out a window

Elder abuse has been defined by the World Health Organisation as 'a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person'.

Elder abuse can take various forms, including: financial, physical, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse, or neglect. No older person should be subjected to any form of abuse.

In June 2017, the Australian Law Reform Commission published a report titled: Elder Abuse — A
National Legal Response
. The Hon. Dr Kay Patterson AO is working alongside organisations and government departments to implement the recommendations from this report and the priorities outlined in the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians.

In particular, Dr Patterson is:

  • raising awareness of elder abuse and informing older Australians of the supports available to them
  • raising awareness of people’s rights and obligations when entering substitute decision arrangements, such as wills and power of attorney arrangements
  • encouraging the development of elder law education programs and the establishment of an elder law specialist accreditation
  • fostering connections between organisations to encourage the evaluation and sharing of existing programs and best practice
  • working with stakeholders across various industries, such as health and finance, to increase workforce understanding and awareness of elder abuse.

Dr Patterson has recently developed elder abuse awareness bookmarks and posters to increase community awareness of the signs of elder abuse and the national elder abuse phone line. These resources are currently being distributed across Tasmania and planning is underway to expand the distribution of these resources to other parts of Australia. If you would like to distribute bookmarks in your local area, please contact

For more information on national, state and territory activities to respond to the abuse of older Australians, see the Implementation Plan, available at

If you are concerned about elder abuse you may want information, or the opportunity to talk to someone about your concerns, and options for getting help.

1800 ELDERHelp (1800 353 374) is the national elder abuse phone line. 1800ELDERHelp automatically redirects callers seeking information or advice on elder abuse to their state or territory phone line service. If you require assistance in an emergency or life threatening situation, contact 000.