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Developing journalism protocols for reporting elder abuse in Australia

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 18:21 authored by Lyn McGaurrLyn McGaurr
Until recently, elder abuse was largely hidden from the public gaze, just as child abuse, domestic violence and depression were in past decades. But this may be changing: in 2017, revelations of elder abuse at the Oakden older persons’ mental health facility made headlines around the country, appearing in more than 670 Australian press stories in the course of the year; in the month that the Australian Law Reform Commission released its 400-page report into elder abuse, the term itself appeared in 160 press reports; and in the days of the Fifth National Elder Abuse Conference in Sydney earlier this year, the topic generated nearly 40 media items, ranging across local, state, national, commercial, public, generalist and special-interest media. Often news reports about these kinds of incidents, events or developments are accompanied by the stories of people who have experienced elder abuse. As governments and NGOs work to increase public awareness of the problem, it is important for journalists to have the knowledge and resources necessary to portray the problem sensitively. Our presentation explores the way forward for developing journalism protocols for reporting elder abuse and ageism. We compare and contrast our proposal with the exemplary work of the Mindframe project in developing protocols for journalists reporting suicide and mental illness, and the resources disseminated by Our Watch for journalists reporting domestic violence. We discuss our plans to conduct preliminary media frame analysis in December this year, when attention from journalists is likely to increase for a time if the Council of Australian Governments fulfils the commitment given by the Attorney-General to develop a national plan to address elder abuse. We then consider what kind of research and consultation might deliver the best protocols, and discuss options for dissemination and evaluation.


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School of Creative Arts and Media


Australian Association of Gerontology

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51st AAG Conference

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