Community & Business

5 March, 2022

Help for Elder Abuse

ELDER abuse in Queensland is on the rise, according to a recent report looking at calls to a state government funded elder abuse helpline.

Photo - Pexels
Photo - Pexels


The Elder Abuse Prevention Unit helpline received more than 2000 notifi cations of elder abuse over the 2020-2021 period, up nearly 500 from the previous year.

The economic and social impact of Covid-19 was cited as a reason behind an increase in calls to the helpline since March 2020. 

Meanwhile, new national elder abuse figures released at the end of 2021 found one in six older Australians reported experiencing abuse. 

In our work, we regularly hear tragic stories of people suffering serious financial elder abuse, most commonly at the hands of family or close friends. 

Examples include a perpetrator improperly influencing someone to change their will, or misusing a power of attorney, for their own fnancial benefit. 

As Australia’s population ages, it’s expected we will see more cases of elder abuse within our community in the coming decades. 

People are living longer, while the incidence of dementia is growing, meaning wealth is tied up for longer in the hands of increasingly vulnerable people. 

At the same time, inheritance impatience is on the rise, as younger family members are forced to wait longer to get their hands on those assets. 

There are some warning signs that financial elder abuse may be occurring. These include things such as: 

  • Family members encouraging relatives to change their will 

  • A person frequently changing their mind about their enduring power of attorney 

  • Lack of money for day-to-day needs 

  • Unpaid accounts 

  • Unexplained amounts of money missing from bank accounts 

  • Loss of jewellery or personal belongings, and 

  • A person expressing fear, anxiety or confusion when discussing finances, assets, property 

One of the challenges with financial elder abuse is that it is often hard to detect, and people may be reluctant to report on other family members. 

The victims themselves may also be too embarrassed or scared of the consequences, or don’t have the capacity to raise their concerns.

If you suspect that financial elder abuse is occurring, I encourage you to report it to authorities, or get advice about what legal or other options are available. 

You can contact the elder abuse helpline on 1300 651 192, or the Office of the Public Guardian on 1300 653 187. 

Kristyn Lennon (nee Knox) is a Cairns-based lawyer who heads Maurice Blackburn’s Tablelands office. This legal information is general in nature and should not be regarded as specific legal advice. If you have a legal question you would like Kristyn to answer you can contact her at


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