The Retirement Living Council has been put on notice it must introduce new nationwide strategies to better identify and respond to resident abuse.

The Age Discrimination Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald AM, who spoke at the National Retirement Living Summit, said elder abuse affects one in six older Australians, including those living in retirement villages. The abuse can take many forms, including neglect, financial exploitation, physical violence, and psychological abuse. According to a 2023 study by the NSW Retirement Villages Residents Association, the most common form of abuse in villages is resident-on-resident.

Related: “It’s horrific out there”: resident on resident abuse on the rise in retirement villages

Retirement Village Elder Abuse Prevention Strategies are currently mandated in New South Wales, requiring operators to develop and implement strategies that support staff and residents. Commissioner Fitzgerald believes all states and territories need to follow suit.

“Elder abuse is highly prevalent and has no place in our society, let alone in retirement villages. Operators have a responsibility to prevent it,” he said.

“Retirement villages are an important sector in our society that can help foster a sense of community and wellbeing for the more than 250,000 older Australians who reside in them. It is therefore an imperative that operators create clear and robust strategies to ensure its residents feel safe, live with dignity, and can access services and information that supports their safety and wellbeing.”