Elder abuse - What's happening in South Australia?

If you have a good news story or would like to share the initiatives of your organisation, contact Office for Ageing Well on (08) 8204 2420.


The State Government’s landmark adult safeguarding legislative changes to the Ageing and Adult Safeguarding Act 1995 (formerly Office for the Ageing Act 1995) – the first of their kind in Australia, came into effect on 1 October 2019.

The changes established the new Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU) in the Office for Ageing Well to provide information and support and to respond to reports of suspected abuse or neglect.

Stop Elder Abuse campaign

The South Australian Government’s public awareness campaign continues in 2021 with the message ‘Older People Have Rights.  Spot the Signs. Speak Up and Help Stop Elder Abuse.

The campaign highlights that older people have the right to safety, dignity and autonomy – to be safe, to be treated in a way that makes them feel worthwhile, and to be free to live the life they choose.

The campaign reminds community members thatt hey should do something about it, such as calling the Adult Safeguarding Unit for advice and support, or to make a report to the Adult Safeguarding Unit.

But at the same time, they should respect and uphold the rights of the older person.

The social and digital media, radio and press campaign aims to raise awareness amongst the general public of the types and signs of elder abuse and how they can report their concerns to the Adult Safeguarding Unit on 1800 372 310.

In 2020, the Stop Elder Abuse campaign focussed on the general community, with the message that now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be looking out for signs of elder abuse and speaking up to help stop it. Messages were carried on social and digital media, radio and in regional press.

In 2019, the campaign reached out to hairdressers and beauty professionals who because of their close relationship with female clients, are in a good position to notice signs of elder abuse and potentially do something about it.

The Strategy to Safeguard the Rights of Older South Australians Action Plan 2015 – 2021 identified that ‘those who provide services to older people are in a unique position to identify situations of risk, including an older person’s vulnerability to abuse.’

In 2018, the Stop Elder Abuse campaign focussed on raising awareness amongst the general public.

In addition, because 50% of cases are financial abuse, it worked with banks, credit unions and real estate agents to provide information and resources, for staff who may be in a position to notice changes in clients’ behaviour consistent with possible financial abuse.

Banking staff may notice unusual financial transactions on the accounts of an older client.Real estate agents may see family members or others controlling a property transaction to the detriment of an older person. Both could be signs of financial abuse.

The 2017 campaign used refreshed posters, postcards, wallet card, bus shelter advertising, newspaper and radio ads, and social media to reach out to volunteers and carers along with the general public. It was designed in consultation with volunteers and carers.

In 2016, in addition to the general public, the campaign focussed on those working in the health, legal and financial sectors because they are often in a position to see the signs and do something to help.

In October 2015, the first Stop Elder Abuse campaign was launched to:

  • raise public awareness of the rights of older people, what Elder Abuse is, what the signs are and where to go for information and support; and
  • enable South Australians to feel confident about seeking help and information if they believe an older person’s rights are not being respected.

The media campaign featured outdoor, digital, radio and press advertising across metropolitan and regional South Australia.

Elder abuse prevention resources

Safeguarding against elder abuse

A useful Carers SA resource funded by Office for Ageing Well for paid and unpaid carers to recognise risk factors for elder abuse, and implement helpful strategies to prevent and minimise elder abuse.

Safeguarding against financial abuse

Developed by Carers SA in partnership with Office for Ageing Well this resource aims to raise awareness of paid and unpaid carers who manage finances of a person they care for, to recognise risk factors and implement safeguards to help prevent or stop financial abuse.

Knowing Your Rights – A Guide to the Rights of Older South Australians

Knowing Your Rights – A Guide to the Rights of Older South Australians (PDF 1MB) has been developed by Office for Ageing Well and Legal Services Commission to assist older South Australians to understand their rights, the laws that protect and safeguard these and where they can access services and information.

Living a Positive Life

Funded by Office for Ageing Well, Living a Positive Life comprises two short films developed by the Aged Rights Advocacy Service. The films demonstrate how older South Australians, including older people from Aboriginal communities, can increase their safety, control over their lives, and knowledge of strategies to prevent elder abuse.

Good Practice Guidelines to Prevent Abuse of Older South Australians

Developed by Office for Ageing Well, the Good Practice Guidelines are a five step practical tool to help organisations identify, develop and implement action plans to improve elder abuse practice, policies and protocols.

South Australia’s Abuse Prevention Phone Line

Since its establishment in October 2015, the South Australian Abuse Prevention Phone Line has received hundreds of calls from concerned older people, family members, friends and service providers, seeking information, support and referrals for elder abuse concerns. On 1 January 2019, The Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU) located in Office for Ageing Well began managing the Phone Line and providing advice and information to callers. The ASU officially commenced operation on 1 October 2019, allowing staff to take and respond to reports of suspected or actual abuse of older adults.

If you have concerns about yourself or someone you know, please contact Adult Safeguarding Unit on 1800 372 310 for confidential support and advice, or to make a report to the Adult Safeguarding Unit.

Plan Ahead - Keeping our communities informed

Following the inaugural launch of Plan Ahead Day in September 2014, Office for Ageing Well expanded the initiative to Plan Ahead Week.

It continues to distribute and promote Plan Ahead key messages and resources to the community, key stakeholders, and service providers. It has produced resources for culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the Greek, Italian and Vietnamese languages, and provides resources to organisations and individuals in metropolitan and regional communities.

To download resources visit: Plan Ahead

To order free resources please complete the online Plan Ahead Resources Order Form (PDF 1.6MB) and email to officeforageingwell@sa.gov.au.

Please take our short survey about the Stop Elder Abuse web pages.