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What is Elder Abuse?

Abuse involves treating someone cruelly or violently.

Elder abuse involves harming a vulnerable person.

Recently physical and emotional abuse has been in the media, although other forms exist.  For example, not providing an older person with enough food is a form of abuse.

In a report written by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (you can read the full report here), elder abuse is described as that ‘which involves the physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse or neglect of an older person by another person in a position of trust – presents a range of complex challenges for the Australian community‘.

It goes on to advise that ‘although solid evidence about prevalence in Australia is lacking, the incidence of elder abuse will certainly increase as Australia’s “baby boomer” generation reaches old age, with increased life expectancy meaning that the aged will, in coming years, comprise a greater proportion of the population than ever before.


Who is responsible for stopping Elder Abuse

It is everyone’s responsibility to stop elder abuse or prevent it from happening.

NNPlus is committed to supporting the elderly in facilities and in the community.

We provide training for all of our staff in the respectful care of older people and those with a disability of any age. Contact us to find out more about our staff or our training by calling our office on 1300 158 440.


Reporting Elder Abuse

Information provided by the Australian Government Department of Health on the reporting of assaults and elder abuse:

You can read the whole guide by clicking here.


Under the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act), approved providers of residential aged care must:

  • report to the police and the department incidents of alleged or suspected reportable assaults within 24 hours of the allegation, or when the approved provider starts to suspect a reportable assault has occurred
  • take reasonable measures to ensure staff members report any suspicions or allegations of reportable assaults to the approved provider (or other authorised person), to the police and the department
  • take reasonable measures to protect the identity of any staff member who makes a report and protect them from victimisation.

Five key elements to compulsory reporting

  • The Act requires that, except in very specific circumstances, approved providers of residential aged care must report every allegation or suspicion of a reportable assault.
  • Reports must be made to both the police and the department within 24 hours of the allegation being made, or from the time the approved provider starts to suspect, on reasonable grounds, that a reportable assault may have occurred.
  • If a staff member makes a disclosure that qualifies for protection under the Act, the approved provider must protect the identity of the staff member and ensure that the staff member is not victimised.
  • If an approved provider fails to meet compulsory reporting requirements the department may take compliance action.
  • Compliance with compulsory reporting requirements is monitored by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (the Quality Agency).

What is a reportable assault?

A reportable assault as defined in the Act (section 63-1AA) means:

  • unlawful sexual contact with a resident of an aged care home, or
  • unreasonable use of force on a resident of an aged care home.


Note for NNPlus staff:

If you have any questions regarding this requirement, please contact our office.

If you suspect elder abuse while working a shift for NNPlus, please follow the guidelines of the facility, and also advise NNPlus.

NNPlus supports our staff in their prevention and reporting of elder abuse in all circumstances.

This blog article was written by Judith Clarke – Quality, WHS and Education Officer – NNPlus

Judith Clarke Compliance & Education NNP, Australias leading Healthcare Agency




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