3.1 There is an investigation gap which may limit the identification of, and response to elder abuse. Stakeholders identified that older people may be reluctant to report instances of elder abuse to police for a number of reasons, including shame and a desire to maintain family relationships. While older people may contact elder abuse helplines or seek support and assistance from advocacy services, these services do not have the power to investigate. To the extent that public advocates and guardians have a power to investigate, they are generally limited, and vary between states and territories.
3.2 The ALRC proposes that the role of state and territory public advocates/guardians be expanded to include a consent-based ‘support and assist’ investigative function in relation to older people who are being, or at risk of being abused or neglected.
3.3 This proposal exemplifies a rights-based, harm reduction model of investigation that places the older person at the centre of decisions relating to responses to elder abuse.