More legal protections needed for seniors, say ACT Greens


More can be done to better protect vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse – including seniors, the Greens said today.  

A recent Australian Institute of Family Studies report found that between 2% and 10% of older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year. However, the prevalence of neglect is probably higher as cases often go unreported.

In a submission to the ACT Government, the Greens today proposed:

  • Action to strengthen protections for seniors should be expanded to include all vulnerable adults such as people with a disability[1].
  • At present, a person can only be charged with neglect against a child or young person. The Greens want the definition of neglect, as defined in the Crimes Act, to be expanded to include all vulnerable people, not just children
  • That age or vulnerability should be considered an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing. That means when someone is violent or abusive to someone who is elderly or more vulnerable, they should get a harsher sentence.
  • That financial abuse, as defined in the Family Violence Act 2016, be expanded to apply to all perpetrators – not just family members.

“The Greens would like to see increased recognition of the society-wide issue of abuse against all vulnerable people, be they adults or children, and robust responses – from both ACT and Federal Governments to minimise the harm caused to them,” ACT Greens spokesperson for Seniors Caroline Le Couteur said today.  “But there’s still so much we can do to make sure our legal system has the right protections in place for all Canberrans, at every stage of their lives – especially for those most vulnerable in our community.”

In 2017-8, the Greens helped successfully secure more support for seniors, with a new Seniors Rights Service established in the ACT following Greens’ concerns that existing services in the Territory didn’t go far enough.

The ACT Greens believe that all people have the right to live with dignity, feel safe and live free from abuse, neglect and violence.

Statement ends

Attachment Size
Elder Abuse submission January 2020.pdf 287.72 KB