New effort to ‘kickstart cooperation’ on elder abuse

Australia’s well-meaning but fragmented response to the problem of elder abuse acts as a barrier to change, argues Greg Mahney.

Australia’s well-meaning but fragmented response to the problem of elder abuse acts as a barrier to change, argues Greg Mahney.

For some time, aged care and seniors advocates have been calling for a nationally coordinated response to elder abuse.

Greg Mahney
Greg Mahney

The incidence of elder abuse in Australia is a national disgrace.

And I believe that our country’s well-meaning but fragmented response to the problem acts as a barrier to change.

The World Health Organization estimates that one in 10 older people experience some form of elder abuse – financial, physical, sexual, psychological or neglect – by a trusted person or persons.

There are many organisations throughout Australia advocating for these vulnerable victims of crime, but there’s inequality between the states and territories in the amount of resources they receive from different government sources. We also have divergent legislation and our priorities vary.

Put simply, we’re all doing our best, but it’s not good enough.

To address this issue, we have taken responsibility for staging a national elder abuse summit next year, to bring together key stakeholders.

Representatives will come from the areas of elder abuse, aged care and other social service experts such as child abuse and domestic violence, as well as from law, medicine, government and research.

The idea behind the summit is to assemble some of the brightest minds in the country with a wide range of expertise, to develop best practice models for cooperation, coordination and communication. Every successful initiative is driven by a shared agenda, and the issue of elder abuse is no different.

It’s also crucial that we elevate the level of national conversation about elder abuse. This occurred with the equally serious social problem of domestic violence, and it changed public opinion. We need to do the same.

The engine that drives the summit will be a nationally inclusive collaborative planning group, comprising stakeholders from all over Australia. It will provide input into design and content, and identify prospective participants and speakers.

We invite those who wish to be considered for membership of the collaborative planning group to contact Advocare (call 08 9479 7566 or email

Greg Mahney is CEO of Advocare and Australia’s representative on the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

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Tags: elder-abuse, financial-abuse, law, research, summit,

3 thoughts on “New effort to ‘kickstart cooperation’ on elder abuse

  1. I have to totally agree with Greg Mahney it’s not good enough and it is up there as a National Disgrace. I am a Consumer Representative heavily involved in Health and am currently advocating for my father who is a victim. A Nursing background and connections has not assisted me in my plight and fight to help my father and others. I have resourced every possible avenue including :-
    -Contacting our local MP’s and Minister for Health and Aged Care (Susan Ley)
    -Presenting at forums to raise awareness on the issues of the concern of the increase in numbers of Elder Abuse Victims. Including my concerns for my area, Regional Victoria, where we have the “silent and isolated” victims
    -Contacting Senior Rights Victoria, Council of the Ageing. Direct contact (meeting )with the Department of Health – Elder Abuse Prevention team in Melbourne
    – Phone link up following submission of my own case study with the Professor and legal team with the Royal Commission into Law Reforms on Elder Abuse
    -Feature story in our local paper and radio interview

    I am not giving up, I may not be able to help my father, but I may be able to help someone else’s . I am very interested in the Elder Abuse forum coming up next year and will contact the appropriate people. The importance of hearing it from the consumer (advocate) for the victim is so important.

  2. I also agree with Greg’s article. While there are many well-meaning groups trying to resolve the problem of elder abuse (in Newcastle alone we have a number of them) but we need a national co-ordinated effort to stamp out this national disgrace, and I’m sure all interested groups would support this move. We have a fast growing elder community and these issues need to be addressed now.

  3. I too like Maria tried every avenue to stop elder abuse against my dad, but failed in every direction and I too cannot help my dad any longer as he is no longer with me, but if I can help one elderly person from abuse then I am more than happy to do all I can to help. Its cruel to watch someone be a victim of elder abuse and the affect it has on their mental health, their life and their livlihood. Its something I would not wish upon my worst enemy. authorities need more power to help victims not protect those who violate.

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