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NSW lawyer flags spike in elder abuse

The newest employee of Catherine Henry Lawyers has spoken out about the increasing prevalence of elder abuse across the state’s regional areas.

user iconEmma Musgrave 04 February 2021 SME Law
NSW lawyer flags spike in elder abuse
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Tanya Chapman recently joined NSW-based Hunter firm, Catherine Henry Lawyers, where she operates as a senior associate specialising in estate planning and elder law.

Increasingly, Ms Chapman said, elder abuse is one of several issues affecting older people living in regional NSW. 


“Elder law focuses on the needs of older people and covers everything from end-of-life planning, incapacity documents such as Power of Attorney, Enduring Guardian and Advanced Care Directives, to wills, aged care accommodation and granny flat agreements, loans to family members, and elder abuse,” Ms Chapman said.

“It is essential that older persons are empowered to make fully informed decisions in their own best interests and are protected from abuse.”

Her comments come after a report published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies estimated that pre-COVID between 2 per cent and 14 per cent of older Australians were experiencing elder abuse in any given year, with financial abuse the most prevalent form.

Later, a December 2020 report released by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety estimated around 39 per cent of people living in Australian aged-care facilities experience elder abuse in the form of neglect, emotional abuse or physical abuse.

Ms Chapman noted with an increased proportion of the community experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19, there is greater reliance on older family members to provide financial support and housing. The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of estate planning and having incapacity documents in place, she said.

“As we grow older, and live longer, good legal advice is increasingly necessary to navigate moving out of the family home, managing and passing on wealth, and ensuring our healthcare wishes are respected,” Ms Chapman noted.