Elder Abuse

MNCLC is committed to identifying and addressing legal problems impacting older people. Our region has a current population of over 157,000 people, with a larger than average population of older people – over 54,170 residents are aged over 60 and 42,050 are aged over 65.  This proportion is expected to grow as the national population continues to age.

Elder abuse is mistreatment of an older person that is committed by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust such as a partner, family member, friend or carer.  Elder abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. Sometimes family, friends and carers may not know that their actions amount to elder abuse.

Elder abuse violates an older person’s basic right to feel safe.  Abuse of older persons is generally recognised as a hidden issue with many victims failing to seek assistance from legal or other services. As most victims are isolated from support services, the most vulnerable victims are difficult to identify.

Elder abuse can be 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 such as physical, psychological or emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It can also be the result of intentional or unintentional neglect.’

World Health Organisation (WHO – 2002)

Psychological abuse

  • Someone threatening to hurt you or damage your belongings
  • Being intimidated, humiliated or harassed
  • Being threatened with eviction or moving to a nursing home
  • Being stopped from seeing your family or friends or attending regular activities
  • Being denied the right to make your own decisions
  • Being treated like a child

Financial abuse

  • Your pension skimmed or money taken from your bank account
  • Your belongings sold without permission
  • Your money or property taken improperly through the misuse of an Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Being forced to change your Will
  • Being denied access to, or control of your own funds


  • Not allowed to access the services you need
  • Not having your physical, medical or emotional needs met

Physical abuse

  • Slapping, hitting, pushing, shaking, shoving or restraining
  • Inappropriate physical or chemical restraints
  • Harm created by over- or under-medicating

Sexual abuse

  • Someone making unwanted sexual approaches or behaving indecently towards you
  • No consent, or consent given by using force or threats