Elder abuse – a push to keep our elderly safe

Posted on January 9th, 2018

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Elder abuse is an area which is becoming of greater concern to Australian society. With an aging population and increased wealth being held by the elderly, it is an unfortunate reality that elder abuse is becoming more and more common.

Elder abuse is defined 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:

  • physical abuse
  • psychological or emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • financial abuse
  • neglect

The NSW Government, amongst other things, has established the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline and Resource Unit as a part of the NSW Aging Strategy. This service aims to assist people in preventing, identifying and dealing with elder abuse.

On 14 June 2017 the Australian Law Reform Commission tabled a report, commissioned by the Commonwealth Government, entitled Elder Abuse – A National Legal Response. It recommended, as an overarching long term recommendation, that a national plan be developed to combat elder abuse. It otherwise made numerous recommendations in the areas of aged care, enduring appointments, family agreements, superannuation, wills, banking, guardianship and financial administration, social security and safeguarding adults at risk. As yet, it is unclear how many of these recommendations will be adopted by the government.

Elder abuse, particularly in terms of financial abuse, is something which solicitors may also assist in preventing. The appointment of an appropriate attorney may limit the scope of financial abuse by having an appropriate person assist in management of an elderly person’s finances. Furthermore, by having estate planning advice provided by a solicitor with extensive knowledge in the area, it is the case that abuses such as undue influence over a person to change his/her Will may be picked up on more easily.

Combating elder abuse is a complex problem which requires the assistance and input of many people, including members of the legal profession.

 

Lana Black, Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay Solicitors, NewcastleLana Black is a Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay Solicitors and practices extensively in estate planning and administration. If you require any assistance in this area please contact Lana Black to arrange a consultation or contact our Newcastle office.

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