In Australia, acknowledgement that older people were at risk of exploitation and abuse from relatives, friends and the general community ﬁrst occurred in 1975 in a national government report (Social Welfare Commission 1975), but further recognition of the issue did not occur until the late 1980s when health care workers and police began to talk about cases of abuse in older people that they were seeing in their day to day work. There were a number of diﬀerent terms used, including ‘abuse of vulnerable adults’, ‘abuse of older people’ and ‘aged abuse’. These were replaced by the term ‘elder abuse’ in the early 2000s in keeping with US and international terminology. Whilst elder abuse had been mentioned in 1990 in government reports
from the states of Victoria (Barron et al. 1990) and South Australia (McCallum et al. 1990), the ﬁrst reference to elder abuse in professional journals was a case series reported in the Medical Journal of Australia in 1991 (Kurrle et al. 1991). The publication of this study resulted in a marked raising of awareness of the problem particularly in New South Wales, with later recognition in other states. Taskforces and working parties were assembled to address the problem and develop policies and protocols, undertake research, and implement education and training. These occurred at an individual state level, resulting in a diverse range of responses across Australia, with no nationally integrated system. Several states have developed speciﬁc services to respond to abuse, and other states have emphasised the use of existing services and programmes to deal with elder abuse. These are described later in this chapter. At the service level, most agencies or service providers who have older people as clients have developed education and training programs and protocols for responding to cases of elder abuse.