Primary prevention of elder abuse in Victoria

Building the evidence to prevent elder abuse
Commissioned by Respect Victoria 
Conducted by  National Ageing Research Institute
Date June 2021

Overview

The ‘Primary Prevention of Family Violence Among Older People Living in Victoria’ report and pilot program investigated the effects of primary prevention interventions as a tool for preventing elder abuse. Conducted by the National Ageing Research Institute, this project aimed to increase knowledge about the drivers of elder abuse, and to investigate strategies for prevention. This project included:

  • a rapid evidence review
  • several co-design workshops with older people and their families or carers
  • the development of an intergenerational pilot program.
Elder abuse is a significant human rights issue, with ageism one of its core drivers. While elder abuse and violence against older people is underreported, available data tells us that up to 14% of older people experience violence in some form.

Key findings

As part of this project, NARI conducted an intergenerational pilot program that paired an older person (aged 65+) with a young person (aged under 48) for a one-hour conversation every week for six weeks.   

The program aimed to reduce ageism, reduce factors for perpetration or experience of elder abuse, and to promote social connection. This program was carried out while Victoria was predominantly experiencing stay-at-home measures due to COVID-19.  

The program findings included:  

  • older people discussed experiencing higher rates of ageism generally, while younger participants experienced higher rates of loneliness  
  • older participants felt undervalued in society, and that they lacked opportunities to contribute skills and experience  
  • younger participants expressed a significant shift in their assumptions about older people at the conclusion of the program  
  • older participants also experienced a change in attitudes towards younger people, acknowledging that they also face unique challenges.  

Recommendations

The researchers provided several key recommendations as a result of the project. These included:  

  • scale up existing or create new intergenerational programs, and formalise mentoring programs between youth groups and older people’s groups  
  • place a focus on LGBTIQ+ communities as older LGBTIQ+ Victorians are experiencing higher levels of loneliness and distress
  • consider gender inequality and racism alongside ageism as key drivers of elder abuse.

Read the report