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How to respond to elder abuse

How to respond to elder abuse



The ALRC is seeking submissions from practitioners on its 43 proposals for reform.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) is currently looking at how Australian laws respond to elder abuse and how they might better protect older Australians.

In its terms of reference, the ALRC was asked to consider existing federal laws and frameworks that seek to safeguard and protect older people from abuse. The ALRC inquiry is looking in particular at federal laws in the areas of banks, superannuation, social security, guardianship and aged care. The ALRC was directed to consider the interaction of those laws with state and territory laws and to identify and model best practice legal frameworks which support older people’s ability to participate equally in their community and protect against misuse by formal and informal carers, supporters, representatives and others.

Following an initial issues paper in June, which attracted more than 200 submissions, and a round of national consultations, the ALRC released a discussion paper in December 2016 and is currently calling for submissions.

The discussion paper includes 43 proposals for reform. Proposals have been developed to meet the following framing principles: dignity, autonomy, protection and safeguarding. The proposals recognise the jurisdictional responsibilities of the different levels of government within a federal system and the need for integrated pathways to achieve a seamlessness of response. They also recognise where there are gaps in the current complaints and investigatory frameworks and where monitoring and supervision may be improved. Some proposals have a regulatory aspect. Specifically, key proposals have been made around powers of investigation for public advocates and guardians, enduring powers of attorney and enduring guardianship, family agreements, banking requirements, aged care, social security and reporting.

The ALRC also makes proposals in support of the development of a national plan that would squarely place elder abuse on the national agenda. National consistency of laws, such as state and territory powers of attorney and guardianship and administration laws, for example, could be led through a national plan process.

The ALRC is keen to get feedback from stakeholders, particularly legal practitioners with experience in this area, to build on the evidence base so far established and test the proposals ahead of the final report. The discussion paper is available online at

Submissions are sought in response to the specific proposals and questions or to any of the background material and analysis. Submissions can be made online or by email to Submissions close 27 February 2017. The ALRC will present its final recommendations in a report to the government in May 2017.

This column is provided by the ALRC. For further information see


  • Priority notices are intended to provide protection against fraud.
  • There are 43 proposals for elder abuse law reform plus questions.
  • The discussion paper is available at
  • Call for submissions closes 27 February 2017.
  • Final report is due May 2017.

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