State Trustees back hard data on elder abuse

State Trustees has championed a recommendation to introduce a national plan to combat elder abuse. Stock image.

State Trustees has championed a recommendation to introduce a national plan to combat elder abuse. Stock image.

A lack of empirical evidence has stalled attempts to tackle the scourge of elder abuse, the State Trustees said. 

Australian Law Commission this week tabled its final report into elder abuse, recommending a national policy framework and a study to gather hard data on the prevalence of abuse. 

The report calls on the Council of Australian Governments to establish consistent laws across the country.

State Trustees chief executive Craig Dent said a national plan to combat elder abuse would lay groundwork for reform and end inconsistencies between states and territories.

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Mr Dent said the “biggest impediment” to countering elder abuse was the lack of empirical evidence on its prevalence. 

“For organisations like State Trustees who see the consequences of financial elder abuse daily, the anecdotal evidence has not been enough to drive change.

“The national plan recognises an evidence base is needed to inform appropriately rigorous and comprehensive policy and legislative responses to the increasing problem of elder abuse,” Mr Dent said.

State Trustees ... see the consequences of financial elder abuse daily. The anecdotal evidence has not been enough to drive change. - State Trustees

Ballarat MP Catherine King said Labor would give bipartisan support at all government levels to address elder abuse. Ms King said Labor leader Bill Shorten had called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in February to act on the report’s recommendations as a matter of priority. 

"With an ageing population this issue will only become more urgent, and given the immense psychological, physical and emotional repercussions of elder abuse, addressing this issue must be a priority."

Senator Brandis said in a statement the government would carefully consider the recommendations.