It’s estimated that each year, 15% of older people experience elder abuse. This is an unacceptable violation of the rights of older people. Everyone has a responsibility to help stop elder abuse by recognising the signs of abuse, reporting it, and supporting the older person to get help.
Types of elder abuse
Elder abuse is an action, threat or failure to act that causes harm or distress to an older person. It can happen once or repeatedly. The abuser is usually a family member, carer or provider – someone that the older person should be able to trust.
There are many types of elder abuse:
Psychological abuse is inflicting mental anguish or creating fear, shame or powerlessness. This is the most common form of abuse.
Financial abuse is wrongly using an older person’s money or assets, including withholding money or making spending decisions for the older person without their consent.
Neglect is withholding essential care such as nutritious food, decent accommodation, clothing, emotional support, or medical or dental care.
Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual behaviour, including rape, indecent assault, sexual harassment and sexually offensive language.
Socialabuse is isolating an older person from their friends, family, and community by limiting or stopping contact and social activities.
Physical abuse is deliberately causing physical pain or injury. It includes physical coercion and physical restraint.
unexplained injuries, bruising, soreness or infections
unexplained weight and health changes
unexexplained behaviour changes like detachment, sadness, fear or anxiety
changes to how someone uses money.
If you or someone you know is at risk of or experiencing abuse, there is help available:
In Victoria, please call us on 1800 700 600.
Or, if you’re elsewhere in Australia, call the Elder Help hotline on 1800 353 374 to be connected to a service in your state or territory.
In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).
Reporting elder abuse
Aged care providers who become aware of elder abuse must report it under the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS). SIRS is a government initiative that requires providers to record and manage serious incidents in residential aged care, including unexpected death, financial coercion and neglect. Elder abuse must be reported, even if the person does not give permission for this.