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Preventing Elder Abuse

The Office of the Public Advocate has a role in protecting adults with a decision-making disability from abuse, exploitation and neglect.

A large proportion of the people for whom the office has a role in protecting are aged 65 or older. This sub-group of vulnerable people face a higher risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect – often referred to as elder abuse.

People over 65 years of age, who still have capacity to make their own decisions and who have concerns about potential abuse, should call the Elder Abuse Helpline on 1300 724 679 (country callers 1800 655 566) or email

The Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (APEA) website has more information about elder abuse, including the elder abuse protocols which help agencies make appropriate referrals when elder abuse is alleged.

The Department of Health website has more information and guidelines to assist health professionals in responding to elder abuse and to ensure that health services support older people at risk

In protecting the rights and dignity of vulnerable adults who either have, or are suspected as having a decision-making disability, the Office of the Public Advocate carries out investigations into the circumstances surrounding these vulnerable adults and reports to the State Administrative Tribunal on matters including:

  • whether an enduring power of attorney and/or enduring power of guardianship are working appropriately
  • whether a guardian and/or administrator should be appointed
  • and if required, who should be appointed as guardian and/or administrator.

If the State Administrative Tribunal believes there is a need for a guardian and/or administrator to be appointed for a person with a decision-making disability, they may appoint a family member or a close friend of the person as guardian and/or administrator. These appointments aim to provide protection from potential abuse for these vulnerable adults.

Where the Tribunal believes a guardian and/or administrator is needed, but the person does not have a family member or friend who is willing, suitable and available to be appointed, the Public Advocate may be appointed as guardian of last resort. These vulnerable people may be at a higher risk of abuse, exploitation and neglect if they lack the support of family and friends.

In addition to its core functions of advocacy and investigation and guardianship services, the Office of the Public Advocate uses a range of strategies aimed at preventing elder abuse. These include the provision of information, advice and education via this website, a suite of publications, community education sessions, and its telephone advisory service.

The Office of the Public Advocate is also a member of the WA Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (APEA); an alliance of government, non-government and voluntary organisations. Members of APEA:WA work collaboratively to raise awareness of issues that surround elder abuse, and to influence current attitudes, policies and practices in relation to elder abuse.

Last updated: 12-Sep-2019

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