Elder abuse

If you are an older person who is being harmed by the actions of someone else, such as a family member, friend, neighbour or carer, you may be experiencing elder abuse.

Elder abuse is wrong. In some cases it may be a criminal offence.

If you are an older person and this is happening, you may be the victim of elder abuse. 

Quick Answers video: What is elder abuse?
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Find out:

  • what elder abuse includes, and
  • where you can get help.

What things might be considered 'elder abuse'?

Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and occurs within an informal relationship of trust, such as family or friends.

Wallet locked up with chains and padlock

Elder abuse is not just about physical violence. It can include forms of financial, emotional, social and psychological abuse.

Some examples of behaviour that could be elder abuse include:

  • Financial – using an older person's money or property without their permission, taking control of bank accounts, selling property and keeping the proceeds, repeatedly asking for 'loans' or access to an expected inheritance, pressure to sign legal documents or Powers of Attorney without proper explanation.

  • Emotional or psychological - verbal or physical threats, threats of abandonment and intimidation, threats to harm others or pets, withdrawal of love and support.

  • Social - restricting someone's social freedom, cutting off phone services, hiding mail, and isolating the older person from family and friends.

  • Physical - any deliberate act resulting in physical pain or injury, including being hit, kicked, pushed, spat on or restrained.

  • Sexual - sexually abusive or exploitative behaviour, including sexual assault, making obscene phone calls, or watching obscene DVDs in the presence of an older person who does not want to see this.

  • Neglect - not providing life's necessities, such as adequate food, shelter, medical care and emotional support.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established on 8 October 2018.

It will look into several aspects of aged care including: the quality of aged care services provided to Australians, the extent to which those services meet the needs of the people accessing them, the extent of substandard care being provided, including mistreatment and all forms of abuse, the causes of any systemic failures, and any actions that should be taken in response.

Go the Royal Commission website to see more on what is being investigated and how to make a submission.

The Royal Commissioners are required to provide an interim report by 31 October 2019, and a final report by 30 April 2020.

Legal Aid Western Australia Elder Abuse Strategy 2020 – 2021

Our Elder Abuse Strategy 2020 – 2021 focuses on four high level key objectives and is consistent with the Legal Aid WA vision of delivering equitable access to justice to support a fair and safe community.

Download: Legal Aid WA Elder Abuse Strategy 2020 – 2021


Get help

If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, our Seniors Rights and Advocacy Service may be able to help.

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The types of matters that we can provide advice and assistance on include;

  • planning for the future (Enduring Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Guardianship, guardianship and administration orders and Advance Health Directives)
  • providing legal assistance when someone lacks decision making capacity (guardianship and administration)
  • family disputes
  • granny flats and moving in with family
  • family law and issues involving grandchildren
  • protection from violence or abuse.

To find out what help we can give for your situation, call the Infoline on 1300 650 579.

You may also be able to get help from these services:

More information


Reviewed: 24 May 2018

Seniors Rights & Advocacy Service

Find out about our specialist service dedicated to safeguarding the rights of older Western Australians and preventing elder abuse.


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.