How technology can prevent elder abuse

Technology can help more older people in Australia take steps to prevent elder abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond.

Why we need digital witnessing enshrined in law

The COVID-19 pandemic has been placing older Australians at increased risk of abuse due to growing pressure on families and isolation away from community supports.

Older people can use legal documents like Enduring Power of Attorney and Appointment of Enduring Guardian to enshrine their agency and prevent elder abuse.

Often, the law requires solicitors to be physically present to witness the making or revoking of these documents. This has been made impossible by COVID-19 restrictions that have prevented lawyers from meeting with their clients physically.

Increased use of digital platforms to witness documents means that people who previously had difficulties commuting and accessing courts or their lawyer’s office can now do so wherever they are. For people who live in regional areas, or for who commuting brings about other issues (family commitments, disability, transport or limited financial resources), witnessing documents remotely increases equal access to legal advocacy.

How we’re advocating for states to make progress

Here are the top three advocacy activities we are currently setting our sights on in order to effectively end elder abuse among older people in Australia.


We’ve been monitoring our casework data to track how COVID-19 is impacting our older clients.
See our analysis


In April 2020, we published a position paper to advocate for changes in New South Wales to witnessing requirements during the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 (NSW).

Read our position paper


In March 2021, the Victorian Parliament passed the Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Bill 2021 (Vic), which made permanent two important changes.

Learn more on Fair Matters

What’s next: rolling out digital witnessing reforms nationally

When safeguards are in place, digital witnessing of documents is an effective way to prevent elder abuse and increase access to legal advocacy. Introducing these reforms and safeguards nationally will reduce the risk of elder abuse for our clients.

Ending elder abuse

We help people who are facing complex legal problems that arise from elder abuse.

We reach out to people at risk and help older people navigate the legal system to ensure they feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect.

See more of our campaigns

Illustration of older woman using her laptop