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Should elder abuse be criminalised? The LIV invites your views

Should elder abuse be criminalised? The LIV invites your views

By Legal Policy

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The LIV Elder Law Committee are currently considering whether elder abuse should be criminalised.

In August 2020, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed legislation to criminalise abuse against an older person, or vulnerable people, which is the first law of its kind in Australia.

The new Crimes (Offences Against Vulnerable People) Legislation Amendment Act 2020 amends the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) by inserting new sections 36A to 36C.

The Act creates an offence of abuse where all the following exist:

  • the person is responsible for providing care to vulnerable person;
  • the person engages in abusive conduct towards the vulnerable person;
  • the conduct results in either harm to the vulnerable person or a financial benefit to the person or someone associated with that person; AND this
  • the person is reckless about causing harm that might be suffered by the vulnerable person or themselves or someone else associated with them obtaining the benefit (whichever might apply to the situation).

The LIV Elder Law Committee recently heard a presentation from guest speaker Elizabeth Samra, Solicitor at the Older Persons ACT Legal Service at Legal Aid ACT, who explained the new Act.

The LIV understands that the ACT’s position differs from Seniors Rights Victoria’s views (as outlined here) and also the statements from the ALRC’s A National Plan to Combat Elder Abuse report that “existing criminal laws generally adequately cover conduct which constitutes elder abuse, and [the ALRC] does not recommend the enactment of specific offences.”

The LIV invites you to email the Elder Law Section at ElderLawSection@liv.asn.au with your views, which will be kept anonymous.


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