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The law and healthy ageing: legal strategies for the prevention of elder abuse

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posted on 27.02.2017, 03:47 by Breedon, Laura Genevieve
Elder abuse is one of the most significant violations of the human rights and dignity of older persons in both Australian society and in the global community. Elder abuse is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, financial and social abuse and or neglect of older people, by a person or persons with whom the victim of abuse maintains a relationship of trust and confidence. This thesis acknowledges and expands upon the role of the international and Australian legal systems in the prevention of elder abuse. To this end, the law has a role in the promotion of healthy and active ageing and the protection and promotion of the human rights of the aged. Through an understanding of the historical recognition of elder abuse as a phenomenon and the nature of the global cultural, social and economic issues that face older people, a framework is identified to assist in combating elder abuse. The discussion draws widely upon the various disciplines, theoretical perspectives and practical responses that have developed historically to combat the challenges of ageing, celebrate the contributions of older people to society and empower older people to retain their autonomy and dignity. Social, primary health, public health and epidemiological perspectives on ageing and elder abuse, in both a global and domestic setting, are essential to effectively develop a valuable framework for the analysis of the law and a pathway for future legal reforms to address elder abuse. Human rights principles underscore this analysis. This thesis focuses upon the legal strategies that currently operate internationally and that exist in Australia for the prevention, detection and remedy of the abuse of older people, and draws upon the experiences and lessons learned in other jurisdictions such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Building upon existing legal frameworks, acknowledging the theoretical and practical challenges confronting professionals working in the aged care arena, and by recognising community perceptions and expectations about the care of older members of our society, this thesis proposes future directions for legal policy and reform in Australia. It is argued that the law constitutes a critical tool for promoting healthy and active ageing.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Bernadette McSherry

Additional supervisor 1

Colette Browning

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Law