THE NEED FOR AUSTRALIAN CRIMINAL LAW REFORM TO PROTECT ELDERLY AUSTRALIANS AGAINST ABUSE

Authors

  • Vanessa Hutchens

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21913/USLRunisalr.v4i1.1630

Abstract

The Australian Bureau of Statistics have reported that Australia’s population is ageing at

an incremental rate, and a recent National Prevalence Study into elder abuse found that a

significant proportion of those older Australians are experiencing abuse. While it is

important to recognise that older people are not inherently vulnerable, it is equally

important to acknowledge the fact that many instances of abuse are falling through the

cracks. Older people with distinct vulnerabilities, are at particular risk, and it is the right

of every older Australian to age with dignity, respect, and to be afforded adequate protection

from abuse. Despite the existence of criminal laws applicable to abuses including physical,

social, psychological, and financial, very few matters relating to abuse of older people are

prosecuted.

This paper provides an overview of the legal framework in which abuse of older adults

currently operates in Australia. It proposes that discrete criminal offences should be

introduced to protect older adults who are reliant on others for their care, and who have a

distinct vulnerability.

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Published

2022-07-01