13.1 Responsibility for criminal laws and frameworks relevant to elder abuse falls principally to Australian states and territories. Criminal practice and procedure, court practice and procedure, policing, prosecution and victim support, and sentencing legislation and practice are also predominantly addressed at the state and territory level.
13.2 Key issues identified by stakeholders in respect of the criminal law and related processes and frameworks were: the need to create specific offences for ‘elder abuse’, ‘elder neglect’ and ‘misuse of powers of attorney’; additional support for ‘vulnerable witnesses’; and improved police responses. The ALRC considers that existing criminal laws generally adequately cover conduct which constitutes elder abuse, and does not recommend the enactment of specific offences.
13.3 In this chapter, the ALRC considers other avenues to improve the operation of the criminal law, including police responses and providing appropriate assistance for witnesses who require additional support to participate in the criminal justice system. In Chapter 14, the ALRC makes recommendations relating to adult safeguarding laws aimed at safeguarding and supporting adults ‘at risk’. These laws would provide adult safeguarding agencies a role that is complementary to police, and are aimed at improving responses to elder abuse.