It’s a growing social epidemic that will affect almost one in 10 Australians over the age of 60.
Elder abuse has long been a concern for lawyers and the legal community, but it was cemented as an issue of national urgency in June, when Commonwealth Attorney-General Christian Porter launched Australia’s first multidisciplinary organisation to combat it. “Tackling elder abuse is everyone’s issue,” Porter said to a packed room of media, lawyers and government officials at the launch of Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA) in Sydney on 14 June.
“In 2056, 22 per cent of Australia’s population – or 8.7 million people – will be over the age of 65. This is not just a problem facing the legal community. It’s a problem for social workers, education providers, healthcare providers, community organisations, and families.”
The Turnbull Government contributed $500,000 to establish the EAAA as part of its $3.7 million commitment announced in the Federal Budget to combat elder abuse. Porter said the new EAAA body would offer Australia’s first dedicated service for elderly Australians to report serious crimes of fraud, theft and even physical violence.
“The Bureau of Statistics estimates that 1.3 per cent of the population over 65 have experienced physical violence,” said Porter. “More than 55 per cent of those violent attacks are carried out by family members. The vast majority go unreported.”
Porter said it was increasingly common to see adult children using deception and threats to wrangle financial control from their parents. “It is critical we tackle these issues of financial abuse, physical violence and ageism head on,” he said.