In late 1998, a number of South Australian agencies combined their efforts with a view to improving and challenging the way that abuse of older people is understood and addressed.


Definition of abuse of older people:


“Elder abuse is any act occurring within a relationship where there is an implication of trust, which results in harm to an older person. Abuse can include physical, sexual, financial, psychological, social and / or neglect.”


The Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (APEA) members are key stakeholders in relation to responding to the abuse and exploitation of older people. These organisations are often referred to as ‘agencies of last resort’ in helping to prevent or minimise the risk of abuse.


APEA comprises of the following organisations:

  • The Legal Services Commission of South Australia

  • The Office of the Public Advocate

  • South Australia Police, Home Assist Program

  • Public Trustee

  • Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS)


The Legal Services Commission of South Australia - The Commission is an Independent Statutory Authority jointly funded by both the South Australian and Commonwealth Governments. It was established in 1977 to increase access to legal services for those people who cannot afford to pay for private legal representation. This mandate is spelt out in the Legal Services Commission Act 1977, which gives the Commission broad powers and responsibilities to work towards equality before the law for all South Australians. The Commission provides legal services through;


  • means tested grants of legal aid

  • free legal information and advice services

  • free minor assistance services to the disadvantaged

  • community legal education

  • Law Handbook on line. Free on line resource explaining the law in plain English and linking to legislation and legal resources.


For information telephone the Legal Help Line 1300 366 424 Monday to Friday 9.00am - 4.30pm.



The Office of the Public Advocate - The Office of the Public Advocate was set up to promote and protect the rights of people with mental incapacity in South Australia. The Office of the Public Advocate has three main client groups:


  • People with mental incapacity

  • Family carers and friends of people with mental incapacity

  • People and organisations with an interest in issues arising from mental incapacity.


The Office of the Public Advocate has several main legislative responsibilities:


  • Guardian of last resort

  • Investigation

  • Education, Advocacy



South Australia Police, Home Assist Program - The SAPOL Home Assist program is funded through the Home and Community Care (HACC) program that is funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments.


The aim of the program is to improve home security and personal safety of HACC eligible service users to allow them to remain safely in their homes and provide a better quality of life.


This program is only available for people who are HACC eligible. To meet the criteria  you must be:


  • 65 years or over, or

  • Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people (50 years and over), or

  • Of any age and living with a disability, or

  • Carers of people who meet these criteria.


SAPOL provides:


  • Free Security Audits: A police officer will come and visit you and conduct a free security audit of your home.  You will be provided with a written document highlighting safety and security issues that could be improved. The police officer will provide you with the contact details for the Home Assist representative within the local council. You may receive assistance to implement police suggestions.

  • Free Group Presentations: Police will deliver free educative presentations to groups of 15 people or more. The presentation topics include: Home and Personal Safety including home security and safety tips.

  • Safety for Residents in an Aged Care Facility: Providing security and safety advice for residents in aged care facilities.

  • Safety in the Client’s Home: Aimed at carers and volunteers providing home assist services services to clients in their home.


For information and to make a booking for a free Security Audit or a Group Presentation, please contact the SAPOL Home Assist Coordinator on 7322 3211.



Public Trustee - South Australians traditionally associate Public Trustee as a ‘maker of Wills’ and a provider of trustee and executor services. Public Trustee has expanded its services to include personal estate planning services, investment services, taxation, real estate management, public education and preparation of Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Guardianship documents.


The Public Trustee also provides services to regional South Australia through regular visits ensuring access to their services is made available to people living in regional areas.


Public Trustee is a Government Business Enterprise with a focus on continuously improving the service they offer to the South Australian community.


Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS) - Is a free, independent, confidential and state-wide advocacy service, using interpreters when necessary.


ARAS works with older people, their carers and/or representatives, who are:

  • Consumers, or potential consumers, of aged care services, and who have a concern about those services

  • Experiencing, or at risk of, abuse by family or friends.


ARAS provides:

  • Information about rights, entitlements and responsibilities

  • Individual advocacy support

  • Education sessions for service providers, consumers, community groups

  • Policy advice


ARAS manages five programs:

  • Retirement Village Program

  • Residential Care Program (including CACP and EACH)

  • Home and Community Care Program (HACC)

  • Abuse Prevention Program

  • Aboriginal Advocacy Program.


APEA undertakes a range of activities through:


The sharing of experience and knowledge from multi disciplinary perspectives on common issues concerning abuse. Members of APEA recognise that collaboration between agencies enables the issues relating to abuse of older people to be addressed in a more comprehensive manner. Financial abuse was reported as being the most common form of abuse by all agencies. Consequently APEA focuses on preventative strategies and collaborative responses to financial abuse.


In raising awareness of the range of issues related to financial exploitation APEA promotes the inclusion of protective conditions and safeguards when completing Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directive documents. It is anticipated that financial abuse is likely to increase given our current economic climate and rapidly ageing population.


APEA provides free education sessions for service providers, students and professional groups on the topic of abuse of older people. These sessions raise awareness of the issue as well as providing opportunities for discussion about specific situations. APEA organisations also provide a point of contact for services seeking information and advice to assist their customers.




Over the last 10 years APEA members have presented numerous education sessions and participated in many panel discussions including the annual ARAS World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) conference in June each year.


APEA has produced a set of 5 brochures to assist older people to maintain control and plan for a safe financial future:

  • Safeguarding Your Finances

  • Appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney

  • The Duties and Responsibilities of your Enduring Power of Attorney

  • Appointing a Substitute Decision Maker

  • Duties and Responsibilities of a Substitute Decision Maker


APEA also produced a publication to assist Justices of the Peace in fulfilling their role. This is titled ‘Witnessing Documents’.


© 2019 by Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. 

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