3F Ageing


Dr Rachel Carson,
Australian Institute of Family Studies
Thursday November 22 2018

Time: 10:50am – 11:20am

Room: Boardroom 2

3F Ageing

Elder Abuse National Research – Stage 1 – The development of an Australian definition of abuse of older people to apply in research


The abuse of older people is a significant issue of concern in Australia but at present, there is no agreed, nationally applicable definition of elder abuse. Following the release of the final report of the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry – Protecting the Rights of Older Australians from Abuse in 2017, the Australian Government, Attorney General’s Department commissioned a national research program to improve the evidence base on the abuse of older people in Australia.

This paper will explore findings from the first component of the of the Elder Abuse National Research program which involves the development of a definition of abuse of older people to apply to research in the Australian context. This research, which was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the National Ageing Research Institute, builds on earlier research undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and informs additional components of the Elder Abuse National Research program that involve the design and delivery of instruments to test the proposed definition of elder abuse and analysis of existing data sets.


Dr Rachel Carson is a socio-legal researcher with expertise in family law and qualitative research about family law disputes. After practising as a family lawyer, Rachel worked as a researcher in family law at the Melbourne Law School (University of Melbourne) and was awarded a Melbourne Research Scholarship to undertake her PhD in this field of research at the University of Melbourne.

Since joining the Family Law and Family Violence team at the Australian Institute of Family Studies in June 2012, Rachel has worked on a range of projects, including the Independent Children’s Lawyer Study and the Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments Project. Rachel was the lead researcher on the recently completed Children and Young People in Separated Families: Family Law System Experiences and Needs project, together with the Institute’s Direct Cross-examination in Family Law Matters Study.

Rachel has contributed to the Institute’s elder abuse scoping studies and is currently working on the Elder Abuse National Research – Strengthening the Evidence Base – Stage 1 research program commissioned by the Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department. She has also contributed to research undertaken for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and to the work of the Institute’s Australian Gambling Research Centre.

Rachel is a consulting editor for the Family Law Review journal and has represented the Institute in various capacities, including as the AIFS observer on the Family Law Council, a body that provides policy advice on family law to the Commonwealth Attorney-General.