Elder Abuse: Response Trial - the first two years

Elder abuse is a serious problem in Australia. A recent study found that one in six Australians over 65 years old experience abuse. Elder abuse is an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another trusted person that causes harm or distress to someone who is 60+. Adult children and family members are most often the perpetrators, and psychological abuse is the most common type of abuse.

In 2019, the Commonwealth Government funded a series of Elder Abuse Service Trials under the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians 2019-2023. As a recipient, Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) established two Elder Abuse Response Programs, both using an integrated practice model combining lawyers and other community service professionals including advocates and financial counsellors.

ECLC commissioned an independent evaluation of these programs through RMIT University and the National Ageing Research Institute. The recent mid-term evaluation looked at the effectiveness and efficiency of the response programs in their first two years.

It found that the programs were implemented successfully, were “highly valued by both clients and professional stakeholders”, and resulted in “clients overwhelmingly reporting their needs had been met” despite being rolled out in the midst of COVID-19 and ongoing lockdowns in Victoria.

This document provides an overview of ECLC’s Elder Abuse Response Programs and key lessons learned from a recent mid-term evaluation. More broadly it demonstrates the value of integrated practice in the elder abuse context.