THE Federal Government has announced a national inquiry into elder abuse after Attorney-General George Brandis told a conference the government was appalled by the level of abuse in the community.
Senator Brandis made the announcement at the National Elder Abuse Conference in Melbourne in February.
The Australian Law Reform Commission will report by May 2017 on the laws and frameworks needed to keep older people safe.
Mr Brandis said much abuse remained unreported and invisible, partly due to a reluctance to speak out.
Older women are the most susceptible and family members are the most common perpetrators.
"All Australians have the right to make their own decisions, to live self-determined lives, to live with dignity and free from exploitation, violence and abuse," he said.
"Those rights do not diminish with age.
"Elder abuse is, regrettably, indicative of social attitudes which reflect a lack of respect or recognition of older persons as full participants in the community.
"Transforming cultural attitudes and fostering intergenerational respect is central to combatting abuse."
National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neill said a national approach to the issue was long overdue. "A safe and secure old age free from abuse and neglect is a basic human right," he said.
"This first national response to elder abuse will shine a spotlight on what is a largely hidden problem.
"We hope to see stronger laws and a national framework arise out of this inquiry."
He said financial abuse forms about 50 per cent of all abuse perpetrated against older people.
"Evidence from Queensland's Elder Abuse Prevention Unit has shown that 65 per cent of reported cases also involve financial abuse as a secondary form of ill treatment."
He said the national conference had heard of a number of cases where vulnerable older people had lost $500 to $500,000, often to relatives.