Elder Abuse Prevention

Elder Abuse Prevention

Elder Abuse Prevention

Elder Abuse

The World Health Organization defines elder abuse as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person”.

Elder abuse may involve physical or sexual abuse, taking an older person’s money or possessions, neglecting them, making threats or stopping their social contacts. It can happen at the hands of an adult child or other family member, and it often occurs in the home.

The Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline

If you think you or anyone you know may be experiencing elder abuse, call the Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline on 1800 441 169.

The Helpline is staffed from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday by sensitive and knowledgeable people who can give you information and direct you to appropriate services. It is operated by Advocacy Tasmania on behalf of the Tasmanian Government.

Organisations That Can Help

COTA Tasmania collaborates with many organisations to promote services they provide for people experiencing or concerned about elder abuse. During periods of social distancing associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Elder Abuse Helpline, Advocacy Tasmania, Legal Aid and Relationships Australia Tasmania are continuing to provide services by phone and/or online visual conferencing options.

  • Tasmania Police should be the first point of contact if you believe your life or the life of an older person you know is in danger. In a life-threatening emergency you need to telephone 000.
  • Advocacy Tasmania operates the Elder Abuse Helpline (1800 353 374) which offers free, confidential state-wide information and referrals. Advocacy Tasmania also aims to protect the rights of older people receiving aged care services in residential establishments or in their own home by helping them be heard and understood. Ring 1800 005 131.
  • The Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania (1300 366 611) operates Senior Assist, which offers free and confidential assistance to people across the State who are over the age of 65 (or over the age of 50 if Indigenous) and at risk of, or experiencing, elder abuse. This is an integrated legal and support service, with social workers working alongside legal staff. Legal Aid  also partners with COTA Tasmania to provide a free legal clinic for older people with concerns about any other legal matter. These clinics operate between 10am and 12 noon on the first Wednesday of the month at our offices at Westella, 181 Elizabeth Street, Hobart. To book a face-to-face or telephone appointment, please email admin@cotatas.org.au or ring 03 6231 3265. During periods of social distancing associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all consultations will be conducted by phone.
  • Relationships Australia Tasmania offers Elder Relationships Services (1300 364 277) to help older people and their families prevent or sort out family conflict; have difficult conversations in a safe place and with professional help; or make decisions such as planning for medical, financial or living arrangements.
  • The Migrant Resource Centre (03 6221 0999), Aboriginal corporations such as Karadi (03 6272 3511), and the organisation Working It Out can provide information about services for CALD, Indigenous and LGBTIQ+ communities.
  • In some cases elder abuse may arise from or be associated with age discrimination. Age discrimination is unlawful. If it occurs, you may be able to take action by making a formal complaint or anonymously informing:

Elder Abuse Resources

COTA Tasmania offers members of the public free peer education about financial elder abuse. It also offers free elder abuse information sessions for staff and volunteers who work with older people. You can find out more about these sessions here.

Information about Tasmania’s elder abuse prevention strategy and the national plan to prevent elder abuse is available here.

For general information about elder abuse, visit www.elderabusetasmania.com.au or the Compass website.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, some older people will become even more isolated than at other times. Community awareness of elder abuse is always vital but especially when we are experiencing social disruption. Please share these resources produced by the Australian Human Rights Commission with anyone who might be in contact with older people. The bookmark can be shared or printed out and given to older people themselves. The poster can be shared or printed out and displayed.

Please note: the above bookmarks and posters promote the National Elder Abuse Helpline number, but be assured that this number will take you directly to the Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline if you are ringing from our state.


The World Health Organization defines ageism as “the stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age; ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs.”

The National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians [Elder Abuse] 2019-2023 acknowledges the role of ageism in elder abuse:

Ageism, and associated negative attitudes towards the experience of ageing, includes perceptions that older people lack worth and make less of a contribution to our society. While this may not cause abuse of older people, it can contribute to an environment in which individuals who abuse older people fail to recognise that their behaviour constitutes abuse; other members of society fail to notice these negative behaviours or take action to stop them; and older people experiencing elder abuse blame themselves and are too ashamed to seek assistance.

More information about ageism is available here.

Information about Tasmania’s elder abuse prevention strategy and the national plan to prevent elder abuse is available here.

For more information about elder abuse prevention and services for yourself or others,
call the Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline on 1800 441 169.