Learning & events

Webinar | Developing policy to prevent and respond to ‘elder abuse’ (run in partnership with EMAN)

with Susan Cochrane, Nick Tebbey and Professor Dale Bagshaw

Tuesday 26 July, 2022 | Online

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (AEST)

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Developing policy to prevent and respond to ‘elder abuse’ (run in partnership with EMAN)

Work continues in Australia and overseas to understand the prevalence of elder abuse, risk factors and protective factors. A robust understanding will enable governments and communities to develop effective policies and interventions.

Elder abuse takes many different forms and has diverse impacts. Common experiences can include neglect, emotional, verbal, financial and physical abuse.

In 2016, acknowledging demographic, health and social impacts of an ageing Australian population and increasingly complex family structures, Relationships Australia commenced trialling a counselling and Elder Mediation service to support families who needed help negotiating the often complex issues related to ageing.

The insights of our Elder Mediators and other practitioners informed policy development at the Federal and State levels across Australia, demonstrating that Elder Mediation is a much-needed component of any policy response to elder abuse. Abuse of older people often presents through acute needs, and often only after years of conflict and trauma. It arises from complex social and relational dynamics that can be inter-generational. The common denominator across each successful intervention (including Elder Mediation) is durable, relational change ‘below the water line’.

This presentation will explore links between policy formation and Elder Mediation services in Australia:

  • demonstrating the whole-of-society transformations required to respond effectively to elder abuse, and
  • identifying rights-based, client-centred approaches needed to achieve enduring change by dismantling social norms and systems that give rise to abuse of older people.

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About the speakers

Susan F Cochrane BA/LLB(Hons), PhD
National Policy Manager
Relationships Australia

Susan Cochrane is the National Policy Manager of Relationships Australia.

Following admission to practise as a solicitor, she worked briefly in private legal practice in Brisbane before moving to Canberra to take up a role as a legislative drafter. She worked for almost two decades across a variety of legal policy roles in the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, and then as senior ministerial advisor to the then Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC.

Since leaving her role with the Attorney-General, Susan has worked for Relationships Australia as National Policy Manager, where she advocates for policies, programmes and services to support all Australians to create and maintain respectful relationships.

As a public servant and ministerial advisor, and more recently in her capacity at Relationships Australia, Susan is a passionate advocate for the fullest realisation of the rights and interests of older people, and for a national plan to address ageism and prevent, detect and respond holistically to elder abuse and neglect.


Nick Tebbey BAS/LLB(Hons), LLM
National Executive Officer
Relationships Australia


Nick Tebbey is the National Executive Officer of Relationships Australia, a leading not-for-profit provider of relationship support services for children, adults, couples, families and communities in Australia. Nick has worked for a number of years in the social and community sectors, including as CEO of the Settlement Council of Australia, the peak body for migrant and refugee settlement services.

In his role as National Executive Officer at Relationships Australia, Nick is proud to be leading a team, and representing a Federation of organisations across the country, that is committed to social justice and inclusion, and promotes respect for the rights of all people, in all their diversity, to live with dignity and safety and to enjoy respectful relationships within their families and their broader communities.


This session will be moderated by:

Professor Dale Bagshaw PhD
Adjunct Professor, Justice and Society,
University of South Australia

Dale is a nationally accredited mediator and an internationally Certified Elder Mediator (Advanced) with the Elder Mediation International Network (EMIN). In 2013, she initiated and Chairs the Elder Mediation Australasian Network (EMAN), is a Board member of EMIN, a member of EMIN’s Certification Committee and a longstanding Member of the SA Department of Health and Wellbeing, Office for Ageing Well’s ‘Safeguarding the Rights on Older Adults’ Steering Committee. She is a Fellow of the Resolution Institute and has received two national and two international awards for her contributions to mediation and dispute resolution.

Dale was previously a Head of School, Social Work and Social Policy at UniSA and, among other roles, was the Program Director for postgraduate programs in Mediation and Conflict Resolution from 1993 until she retired in 2009. Since retiring from UniSA she has been a Visiting Professor and Examiner for the Mediation and Conflict Transformation Program at the National University of Ireland and has conducted many elder mediation training programs in Australia and NZ.

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