ATTENTION: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)


More than 1650 people responded to the Relationships Australia online survey in December.  More than four-fifths of survey respondents (81%) identified as female.

As was the case for last month’s survey, more females than males responded in every age group (figure 1).  More than ninety-five per cent (97%) of survey respondents were aged between 20‑59 years, with the highest number of responses collected for women aged between 30-39 years (inclusive).

The demographic profile of survey respondents remains consistent with our experience of the people that would be accessing the Relationships Australia website.

Survey respondents were asked whether they had concerns about an older person who may be experiencing elder abuse (figure 2).  Just under one-third (30%) of survey respondents reported concerns about an elderly friend or relative experienceing elder abuse, with women more likely to report concerns than men.

Just under seventy per cent (67%) of survey respondents identified greed and a sense of entitlement as a contributing factor to elder abuse.  The next most common factors included the poor physical and mental health of older people (49%) and abusers (43%), and the financial problems of the abuser (42%).

Survey respondents reported that they thought the most likely perpetrators of elder abuse were the partners or spouses of the older person, their sons or daughters.  Female survey respondents were more likely to report sons (25% compared with 19%) as the most likely perpetrators of elder abuse, while men were more likely to report that they thought partners (25% compared with 22%) or daughters (17% compared with 10%) were the most likely perpetrators of elder abuse (figure 4).  The percentages attributed to sons and daughters are significantly lower than the estimated 90 per cent of elder abuse attributed to adult children in the extant research.


Very few survey respondents reported that they wouldn’t do anything if they suspected elder abuse (figure 5).  Men were more likely than women to indicate they would speak to the abuser (12% compared with 6%), while women were more likely than men to report that they would speak to the older person (25% compared with 21%).  Just over forty per cent of men and women survey respondents indicated that they would report their suspicions to the police or a community organisation.


Relationships Australia State and Territory websites