Key Information

Find out all you need to know at each important stage

Key Information

Considering the Future... Now

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

- Malcolm X

Future Planning

Having to make decisions on behalf of someone who has lost the capacity to do so, can be a stressful and difficult time. You may find yourself asking questions like:

“What would she have chosen?” and “Would he have wanted me to do this?”

To avoid stress on family and friends, it is advised that all people take steps to plan for their own future, and make their own decisions whilst they can. Ideally, this should be one of the first things to consider when starting the conversation with your family member on moving into residential aged care.

There are many different tools to help you prepare, for example:

  • Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Enduring Power of Guardianship
  • Advance Health Directive (known by varying names between states / territories)
Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a document enabling anyone over the age of 18 years, who has legal capacity, to give another person or agency the legal authority to make financial and property decisions on their behalf.

The person making the Enduring Power of Attorney is known as the DONOR and the person appointed is known as the ATTORNEY or DONEE (NOTE: terminology varies between states).

Once the Enduring Power of Attorney is in operation (either the donor has lost capacity or assigned the power) the Donee can:

  • Make all financial decisions

To make an Enduring Power of Attorney or get further information and resources, contact the relevant organisation(s) in your state / territory. See Considerations.

Enduring Power of Guardianship

An Enduring Power of Guardianship (EPG) is a document enabling anyone over the age of 18 years who has legal capacity to give another person the legal authority to make personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions on their behalf. The person making the Enduring Power of Guardianship is known as the APPOINTOR and the person appointed is known as the ENDURING GUARDIAN or APPOINTEE.

Once the Enduring Power of Guardianship is in operation (the appointor has lost decision making capacity) the appointee will be able to make decisions stated in the EPG including:

  • Lifestyle or treatment decisions
  • Where and with whom the appointor can live
  • The appointor’s entry into aged care or alternative accommodation
Advance Health Directive

An Advance Health Directive (AHD) is a legal document that a person 18 years of age or older, with legal capacity can complete. It allows the person making the document, to record their decisions now about the medical, surgical or dental treatment or procedures they would want, or not want, to receive if they ever became sick or injured and were incapable of communicating their wishes. In such circumstances, their AHD would effectively become their voice.

For more information about AHD’s, or for copies of the document refer to your state:

  • ACT – In the ACT an AHD is known as a ‘Health Direction’
  • NSW – In NSW an AHD is known as an ‘Advance Care Directive’
  • NT – In the NT an AHD is known as an ‘Advance Personal Plan’
  • QLD – Advance Health Directive
  • SA – In SA an AHD is known as a ‘Advance Care Directive’
  • TAS – In TAS an AHD is known as a ‘Advance Care Directive’
  • VIC – In VIC an AHD is known as an ‘Advance Care Plan/Directive’
  • WA – Advance Health Directive

Planning for the future involves many important, and life changing decisions, which should not be taken lightly. Some things to consider are:

  • Speaking to your family and friends about your future plans
  • Exploring aged care options
  • Ensuring someone knows where important documents (such as EPA, EPG and Will) are kept if you make them
  • Being informed about finances and financial options

It is recommended that before any decisions are made, you discuss your options and plan carefully.

For more information about future planning contact the relevant organisation(s) in your state:


Powers of Attorney, Wills, Estates, Trusts, and Guardianship Public Trustee and Guardian
(02) 6207 9800
Enduring Power of Attorney Public Advocate of the ACT
(02) 6207 0707
Canberra Community Law - formerly (Welfare Rights and Legal Centre) provides legal services to people on low incomes
(02) 6218 7900


The Public Guardian
(02) 8688 7777
Seniors Rights Service NSW
1800 424 079
NSW Trustee and Guardian
1300 364 103


Power of Attorney Land Titles Office
Estate, trustee, will and will storage services to Northern Territory (NT) residents Public Trustee


Enduring Power of Attorney Public Trustee
1300 360 044
Seniors and Legal Support Service
(07) 3214 6333
Office of the Public Guardian
1300 653 187


Enduring Power of Attorney and Wills

South Australia no longer has Enduring Power of Guardianship or Medical Power of Attorney as these are now covered under an Advance Health Directive.

Office of Public Advocate
(08) 8342 8200
Enduring Powers of Attorney and Wills Public Trustee
(08) 8266 9200


Enduring Power of Attorney Land Titles Office
(03) 6165 4444
General Free Legal Information and Advice Community Legal Tasmania
(03) 6223 2500
Enduring Power of Guardianship Guardianship and Administration Board
(03) 6165 7500
Public Trustee
(03) 6235 5200


Office of Public Advocate
1300 309 337
Seniors Rights Victoria
1300 368 821


Enduring Power of Attorney and Guardianship Office of Public Advocate
1300 858 455
Advance Health Directives Department of Health WA

9222 2300 

Wills Public Trustee
1300 746 116
Legal Services Older Peoples Rights Service
(08) 9440 1663

Nationwide Information

Advance Care Planning
Who Will Make Treatment / Emergency Decisions?

In the case of decisions about health treatment, if the resident of an aged care facility does not have the capacity to make their own treatment decisions, there is a ‘Hierarchy of Treatment Decision Makers’. If the resident does not have an appropriate or valid advance health directive, the health professional will seek a treatment decision from the first person on the list who is 18 years of age or older, has full legal capacity and is willing and available to make the decision.

Hierarchy Of Treatment Decision Makers

For Someone Without Capacity

THIS IS A GENERAL GUIDE ONLY. Ensure you speak to the relevant organisation in your state/territory, to confirm this hierarchy. See Considerations.

Preparing for the Move
Your Rights

Prior to an individual resident entering an aged care facility, they may have been receiving care from family and friends for some time.

This care may include:

  • Emotional support
  • Transport
  • Shopping, meal preparation, household chores and maintenance
  • Financial management
  • Personal care such as assistance with showering, dressing and meals
  • Decision making and advice

Although many of these roles may be filled by support workers once the person enters residential aged care, there is still a big role for friends, family and carers, and you can still be involved.

Your Rights In Each Aspect Of Care

At the resident’s request, you have the right to participate in many aspects of their care, including:

  • Be informed of any upcoming assessments
  • Be present at the initial, and ongoing assessments
  • Contribute information to the assessment
  • Be informed of aspects of assessments that affect the resident
  • Participate in the resident’s care where appropriate (e.g. it may not be appropriate for family members to shower a resident, but they can assist with meals)
  • Be informed of changes in a resident’s care needs
  • Advocate on behalf of a resident for best practice care
  • Assist in care planning
  • Participate in care planning sessions for, and with, the resident
  • Assist the resident to make plans for their future needs  (See Considering the Future Now)
  • Make a complaint on behalf of the resident
  • Assist the resident to make a complaint
  • Seek support for you or the resident to make a complaint
  • Complain about the way that YOU have been treated in the facility (See Experiencing Problems section for more information on Complaints)

In Australia, the rights of carers are recognised by various national, state and territory Acts. This legislation supports government policy and strategies aimed at making life easier for carers and those they are caring for.

The National Carers Recognition Framework was launched in 2009 and its main purpose is to recognise, in legislation, the role and contribution of carers. It encourages community understanding and recognition through national acknowledgement of the commitment and dedication of carers.

Carer Recognition Act 2010

The Carer Recognition Act 2010 is the legislation that underpins the National Carer Recognition Framework. The Act aims to raise awareness of the role carers play in providing daily care and support to people with disability, medical conditions, mental illness or who are frail aged. Its aims to promote much needed cultural and attitudinal change throughout public service agencies, their associated providers, and ultimately the community as a whole.

The Statement for Australia’s Carers
  1. All carers should have the same rights, choices and opportunities as other Australians, regardless of age, race, sex, disability, sexuality, religious or political beliefs, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage, cultural or linguistic differences, socioeconomic status or locality.
  2. Children and young people who are carers should have the same rights as all children and young people and should be supported to reach their full potential.
  3. The valuable social and economic contribution that carers make to society should be recognised and supported.
  4. Carers should be supported to enjoy optimum health and social wellbeing and to participate in family, social and community life.
  5. Carers should be acknowledged as individuals with their own needs within and beyond the caring role.
  6. The relationship between carers and the persons for whom they care should be recognised and respected.
  7. Carers should be considered as partners with other care providers in the provision of care, acknowledging the unique knowledge and experience of carers.
  8. Carers should be treated with dignity and respect.
  9. Carers should be supported to achieve greater economic wellbeing and sustainability and, where appropriate, should have opportunities to participate in employment and education.
  10. Support for carers should be timely, responsive, appropriate and accessible.
See each state/territories legislation below:
The Rights of the Resident

Every resident in a residential aged care facility has rights and responsibilities. It is the role of the facility to uphold and promote resident’s rights, and the role of the resident to ensure they are fulfilling their responsibilities.

The rights and responsibilities of all residents in residential aged care are protected under the Aged Care Act 1997. If a resident, or their family, identify any instance where a resident’s rights are not being respected, they have the right to question the treatment or make a complaint.

Rights and Responsibilities - Residential Care

No matter which aged care home you live in, your rights and responsibilities are the same. To protect these rights and responsibilities, there is legislation that all Australian Government-subsidised aged care homes must follow, including the Aged Care Act 1997.

‘Residential care’ refers to the care and services you receive when living in an aged care home.

'Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities - Residential Care

The Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities - Residential Care (the Charter) outlines the rights and responsibilities of you and your aged care home.

Each care recipient has the following rights:

  1. full and effective use of his or her personal, civil, legal and consumer rights
  2. quality care appropriate to his or her needs
  3. full information about his or her own state of health and about available treatments
  4. be treated with dignity and respect, and to live without exploitation, abuse or neglect
  5. live without discrimination or victimisation, and without being obliged to feel grateful to those providing his or her care and accommodation
  6. personal privacy
  7. live in a safe, secure and homelike environment, and to move freely both within and outside the residential care service without undue restriction
  8. to be treated and accepted as an individual, and to have his or her individual preferences taken into account and treated with respect
  9. continue his or her cultural and religious practices, and to keep the language of his or her choice, without discrimination
  10. select and maintain social and personal relationships with anyone else without fear, criticism or restriction
  11. freedom of speech
  12. maintain his or her personal independence
  13. accept personal responsibility for his or her own actions and choices, even though these may involve an element of risk, because the care recipient has the right to accept the risk and not to have the risk used as a ground for preventing or restricting his or her actions and choices
  14. maintain control over, and to continue making decisions about, the personal aspects of his or her daily life, financial affairs and possessions
  15. to be involved in the activities, associations and friendships of his or her choice, both within and outside the residential care service
  16. to have access to services and activities available generally in the community
  17. to be consulted on, and to choose to have input into, decisions about the living arrangements of the residential care service
  18. to have access to information about his or her rights, care, accommodation and any other information that relates to the care recipient personally
  19. to complain and to take action to resolve disputes
  20. to have access to advocates and other avenues of redress
  21. to be free from reprisal, or a well-founded fear of reprisal, in any form for taking action to enforce his or her rights
Care Recipients’ Responsibilities - Residential Care

Each care recipient has the following responsibilities:

  1. to respect the rights and needs of other people within the residential care service, and to respect the needs of the residential care service community
    as a whole;
  2. to respect the rights of staff to work in an environment free from harassment;
  3. to care for his or her own health and well‑being, as far as he or she is capable;
  4. to inform his or her medical practitioner, as far as he or she is able, about his or her relevant medical history and current state of health
Standards of Care

Australian Government subsidised aged care homes are run by organisations approved to care for their residents.

The Government monitors the quality of care and services provided in aged care homes in a number of ways.

These include:

  • Accreditation standards;
  • Notices of non-compliance;
  • Sanctions;
  • Complaints made to a facility.

For more information visit

Administration And Fees Untangled

One of the aspects of care that is confusing to both residents and their families, is the cost of care and the responsibilities of both the resident and the family with regards to paperwork, paying bills and legal contracts.

Prior to signing any agreements with the facility, make sure you have read and understood the paperwork and what implications it has on both the resident and their next of kin.

Before moving into the facility you should receive paperwork which includes:

  • Residential Care Agreement
  • Fees and Charges Schedule as well as a direct debit or payment agreement
  • Information about the services to be provided

Fees and charges untangled

Charges made for residential care can be difficult to understand and will often vary between nursing homes depending on the services and facilities provided.

However, fees can be divided into three groups:

  1. Accommodation Payment
  2. Daily Care Fees
  3. Additional/Extra Service Fees

Accommodation Payment

This is used to cover the cost of the room, or bed, and the facilities and maintenance provided by the residential aged care home - for example dining rooms, lounge rooms, pools etc.

The terms used in the contract or by the residential aged care home for this payment may be Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) or Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP).

The RAD is a lump sum, one off, payment made to the nursing home by the resident or family. This will vary between nursing homes. The money is refunded if the resident leaves or will be paid to the estate. At this time this money is guaranteed by the government.

The DAP is for intended residents who are unable, or do not wish to pay the RAD. This amount is similar to rent and will be a payment or combination payment (lump sum and weekly charge) of amounts agreed by you and the nursing home. Interest may be charged by the nursing home on this type of payment agreement.

The accommodation payment is decided by an income and assets test, which is carried out by Centrelink. In some circumstances no accommodation payment is required at all.

Daily Care Fees

Basic daily fee

This charge is to cover the cost of care which will also include such items as cleaning, electricity and meals. This amount is currently set by the Government at 85% of the basic single pension and is paid by all residents regardless of their income.

Means tested care fee

In some situations, depending on the income and assets assessment results, a resident may be asked to make an extra contribution towards their care costs.

To see the current maximum lifetime limit please click here

Additional/Extra Service Fees

Extra services may be linked to a specific bed or room and could include access to larger rooms, or greater meal choices. Additional fees could include hairdressing services, newspapers, and access to the internet. All nursing homes are required to make these charges clear before any contract is signed. The costs will also vary between nursing homes. It is advisable to make sure that these fees are clearly understood before signing documents.

For more information about aged care accommodation and fees:

My Aged Care Australia
1800 200 422

Department of Human Services - Centrelink
1800 227 475

Centrelink Financial Information Service Officer
13 23 00

Department of Health

Ageing and Aged Care - Residential care and home care frequently asked questions

Settling In

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

- Leo Buscaglia


Your New Role

“Never be so busy as to not think of others” -Saint Teresa

The question many family and friends ask when a family member has entered a facility is…“What now?”

It is hard when you have spent years supporting a person to know what your role is now that they are in residential aged care. You may no longer be responsible for their personal care or meals, but you still have an important and valued part to play in their life, and this position should be acknowledged and respected by the residential aged care facility.

This section details the important role that you still have in the life of your family member, and the tasks that are now the responsibility of the residential aged care facility.

Daily Needs

Residents will be showered by the facility care workers, however you can participate in discussions about when and how your family member likes to be showered, and assist by bringing their favourite shower products.


The facility will arrange and change continence aids, however you can assist by giving them a history of the resident’s continence and you can have input into which continence aids they prefer, and any other detail.

Health Needs

Residents can still have access to their regular GP, pharmacist etc. once settled in a facility. It is not essential to use the facility’s recommendations.

Emotional Support

Both you and the staff have a role in emotionally supporting the resident, and this is a very important role. Moving to a facility can be frightening for people, and they need love and support at this time more than ever.


The facility is required to provide residents with their meals. However, you are permitted, at the resident’s request, to bring in food such as snacks, sweets, even fully cooked meals (with consideration given to certain dietary requirements and/or OT assessments). Many residents enjoy this, as they feel more at home eating the foods they are used to and enjoy. If you have concerns about dietary requirements or cultural food requirements, you can talk to the nurse or facility manager.


Family members are welcome to spend time at the facility, participate in activities, and engage in cultural or religious practices and special holiday occasions in, or outside, the facility. This role is as important now that your family member is in care, as when they were living in the general community. The facility will provide activities to help residents to strengthen their bodies and minds, improve their physical and mental capacity and maintain and enhance their social skills.

Ways You Can Stay Connected

Make enquiries to the facility manager to find out how you can volunteer in the facility to assist your family member, remain close and actively contribute towards their well being and the wellbeing of the other residents.


Residential aged care is a home, not a prison. You are free to take residents out, or back home for up to seven days with no risk to them losing their place. For example, this may include Christmas, or special occasions, such as birthdays. (NOTE: You will need to notify the facility before planning to do so, and the manager will advise you of any forms you need to fill out).

Visits and overnight stays

Residential aged care facilities will have visiting times, but family may be permitted to stay if a resident is sick or distressed, as long as there is no disturbance to other residents. (Overnight stays are up to 52 nights per year). Most facilities can also provide a lunch or dinner if you wish to stay and have a meal with your family member and welcome your involvement in activities (Speak to the facility manager about their policy and procedures on meals and activities).

This list is not prescriptive, or exhaustive, you are free to discuss with the facility staff any ways in which to stay connected.


The following outlines some real life situations which may occur in residential care. This may provide you and your family with a better understanding of legal rights and resolving any issues.

Q - Tom lives in a residential aged care facility and is having trouble with another resident. He has spoken to the manager, who has agreed to address the issue. Can they do this?

A - Yes! The facility manager is the best person to go to, to discuss any issues you are experiencing in the facility, and they have the ability to resolve many concerns quickly and effectively.

Q - Joan has been a resident in a facility for two years and is unhappy with some aspects of her care. She is worried that if she makes a complaint the facility may evict her. Can they do this?

A - No. Every resident has Security of Tenure, which means they have a secure place at the facility and they cannot be evicted unless there are extreme circumstances.

Q - Rita has recently entered a facility and the resident in the room next to her is loud and unsettled during the night. Rita requested the manager move the other resident to a different room, but the manager has refused. Can they do this?

A - Yes! Just as Rita has Security of Tenure, so do other residents and therefore the manager cannot move the other resident to another room without his or her permission. In this instance, it is reasonable for Rita to request to move to another room and the management to facilitate this move when a room is available. There may be a waiting period for a room to become vacant, but the management and staff should try to manage the disruption in the meantime.

If you feel that your family members rights are not being respected, or you would like information or advice on a situation you are facing, you can contact your relevant state advocacy agency."

– (See ‘Support Services’ section – State Advocacy agencies)

Support Services


Carers and family can be heavily impacted by the move of a family member into a residential aged care facility, and they can often feel high levels of guilt, grief and loss.

Your family member may not have all the comforts and freedom they used to have, and you, having been the primary carer, may start to feel less valued.

These feelings are very common, and there are a range of support services available to you, and your family member. These services can help make the shift into residential aged care as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Support For You


Alzheimer’s Australia National Dementia Helpline
1800 100 500

Carers Australia
1800 242 636

Counselling Services


Carers ACT (Carer Advisory Service)
1800 242 636


Carers NSW (Carer Line)
1800 242 636


Carers NT (Carer Advisory Service)
1800 242 636


Seniors Enquiry Line
1300 135 500
Queensland Aged and Disability Advocates
1800 818 338
Carers Queensland (Carer Advisory Service)
1800 242 636


Carers SA (Carer Advisory and Counselling Service)
1800 242 636


Carers TAS (Carer Advisory Line)
1800 242 636


Carers VIC (Carer Advisory Line)
1800 242 636


Carers WA (Carer Advisory Line)
1300 227 377

Some states have a Carers Advisory Team to provide assistance or advice on many different issues, and to help navigate through issues that may arise through your caring role.

Speak to the ‘Carers organisation’ in your state for more information.

Social Support, Wellness and Education

A range of social services are also provided by each state including:

  • Social morning teas and lunches
  • Educational workshops
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse carers groups
Support For Your Family Member


Counselling Services
Relationships Australia
1300 364 277
13 11 14
Beyond Blue
1300 224 636
Salvation Army
1300 363 622
Salvo’s Counselling - ACT, QLD, NSW
Suicide Callback Counselling Service
1300 659 467
Alzheimer’s Australia National Dementia Helpline
1800 100 500
Loneliness and Isolation

Feeling lonely in a residential facility is very common, especially for residents whose family aren’t able to visit regularly. Having a visitor and friend is important in these times, and visitors are available through the Community Visitors Scheme, a service that links residents to volunteers with similar interests and backgrounds.

Financial Services


Financial Information Service
13 23 00

State Specific


Care Financial Counselling Service
1800 007 007


Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association NSW
(02) 9891 6400


Anglicare NT
(08) 8985 0000


Country Callback
1800 543 354


Counselling Association of South Australia
(08) 8331 2255
Seniors Information Service
(08) 8168 8776
Financial Counselling Association of South Australia
(08) 8337 0898
Legal Services Commission
1300 366 424


Centacare Tasmania
(03) 6278 1660 or 1300 135 513
Anglicare Financial Counselling Service (Financial and legal support services)
1800 007 007
Consumer Credit Advocate, Hobart Community Legal Service
1800 232 500


Community Visitors (administered by the Office of the Public Advocate)
1300 309 337


Financial and Legal Support Services

Older Peoples Rights Service
– 9440 1663
Financial Counselling Helpline –
1800 007 007
Financial Information Service –
13 23 00

State / Territory Advocacy Agencies

Details on the most appropriate support agency can be accessed from your facility manager, or by contacting your state’s peak aged advocacy service:


ACT Disability Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS)
(02) 6242 5060


Seniors Rights Service NSW
1800 424 079


Darwin Community Legal Service Aged and Disability Advocacy Service
1800 812 953
(Darwin and northern NT)
CatholicCare NT
1800 354 550
(Alice Springs and central NT)


Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia
1800 818 338


Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS)
(08) 8232 5377


Advocacy Tasmania
1800 005 131 or (03) 6224 2240


Elder Rights Advocacy
(03) 9602 3066


Advocare Incorporated
(08) 9479 7566
(Advocare also has an Aboriginal Advocacy Program)
Experiencing Problems

Aged care is designed to be inclusive and adapt to the needs of the recipient, however no service can be ‘one size fits all’. If there is some aspect of care that is causing distress or concern to your family member, you have a right to make a complaint, or advocate for change, and there are a number of ways you can do this.

Advocacy services are ideal when addressing issues with your care facility. Advocates offer independent, confidential and FREE support to help you resolve your concerns.

Advocacy services in your state are independent of all aged care facilities, ensuring an unbiased resolution of your concerns. This independence means the advocate’s goal is only to assist you to achieve the best outcome.

Complaints Resolution Flowchart


Many states would like to see advocates contacted for information and/or advice before using the internal complaints policy if a client wishes. This means an advocate can be part of the process as requested by the client, rather than a service of last resort


*It is best to speak to management at the facility first if you can (if you feel uncomfortable or are not able to talk to the facility manager, you can contact your state’s advocacy agency first). If you are concerned about making a complaint, the advocacy agency can often assist while keeping you anonymous.

Advocates are independent and do not have any relationship with any aged care facility. This independence means the advocate’s goal is only to assist you to carry out your desired action.

Allied Health Services Complaints
If your complaint is in regard to a:
  • General practitioner (doctor)
  • Ambulance
  • Registered nurse
  • Hospital service
  • Occupational therapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Physiotherapist
You can contact:
  • The facility manager
  • Complaints Agency in your state


Health Care Consumers Association of the ACT
(02) 6230 7800
ACT Human Rights Commission
(02) 6205 2222


Health Care Complaints Commission
(02) 9219 7444
1800 043 159


Health and Community Services Complaints Commission
(08) 8999 1969


Office of the Health Ombudsman
133 646


Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner
(08) 8226 8666


Health Complaints Commissioner Tasmania
1800 001 170 (freecall)


Office of the Health Services Commissioner
(03) 8601 5200


Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO)
(08) 6551 7600
  • Health Consumers Council in your state


Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF)
(02) 6273 5444


Health Consumers NSW (HCNSW)
(02) 9986 1082




Health Consumers Queensland (HCG)
(07) 3012 9090


Health Consumers Alliance of SA Inc. (HCA)
(08) 8231 4169




Health Issues Centre (HIC)
(03) 9664 9343


Health Consumers Council
(08) 9221 3422


Complaints Commissioner and Federal Ombudsman

If you find your complaint cannot be resolved through the above channels, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner is the next option. The Commissioner provides a free service for anyone to raise their concerns about the quality of care or services being delivered to people receiving aged care services funded by the Australian Government. 1800 550 552

At the highest level of complaints resolution is the Federal Ombudsman 1300 362 072

Elder Abuse

“To those seniors, and especially elderly veterans like myself, I want to tell you this: You are not alone, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. If elder abuse happened to me, it can happen to anyone. I want you to know that you deserve better.”

-Mickey Rooney

Types of Abuse

The World Health Organisation 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’.

Research indicates elder abuse may affect as many as 1 in 20 older people in Australia, and that those who are frail, isolated, sick or dependent may be at higher risk.

Elder abuse can take many forms, however Australian elder abuse agencies identify 6 main types:

Financial abuse
  • Forced changes to legal documentsMisappropriation of money, assets or valuables
  • Misuse of a bank card or Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Using the older person’s money for personal benefit
Psychological abuse
  • Verbal intimidation, humiliation, harassment or shouting
  • Threats of various forms
  • Removal of decision making power
Social abuse
  • Preventing the older person from having contact with family or friends
  • Withholding an older person’s mail, or disconnecting the phone
  • living in, and/or taking control of the person's home
  • Preventing the older person from engaging in cultural or religious practices
  • Preventing an older person from accessing aged care services
  • Receiving carers allowance but not providing care for the older person
  • Failing to provide adequate food, water, clothing, warmth or shelter
Physical abuse
  • Slapping, hitting, kicking, tripping, shoving, burning or bruising
  • Physically restraining an older person
  • Over or under-medicating
  • Failing to provide adequate food, water, clothing, warmth or shelter
Sexual abuse
  • Rape and indecent assault
  • The use of sexually offensive language and/or materials and media
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Making unwanted comments about an older person’s body

Elder abuse is never OK. If you have experienced abuse, feel you are at risk, or suspect someone else is experiencing abuse, help is available.

Elder Abuse Helpline

The Elder Abuse Helpline is a free, confidential service that has trained advocates ready to assist and offer support. Advocates can help to provide you with options, advocate on your behalf, recommend services and supports, and refer you to other agencies if desired.


Abuse Prevention Referral and Information Line (APRIL)
(02) 6205 3535


Elder Abuse Helpline NSW
1800 628 221


Darwin Community Legal Service Elder Abuse Information Line
1800 037 072


Elder Abuse Helpline
1300 651 192


Elder Abuse Prevention Line
1800 372 310


Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline
1800 441 169


Senior Rights Victoria Helpline
1300 368 821


Advocare Elder Abuse Helpline
1300 724 679
Legal Support

Older People’s Rights Services and/or community legal centres in each state are free and confidential, and can assist in preventing and addressing elder abuse.

Assistance can also be provided with:

  • Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Enduring Power of Guardianship
  • Preparing legal family agreements and
  • Reviewing financial documentation before the older person signs

See further legal and financial matters under ‘Considering The Future, Now’ section.

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