Banks and advocacy groups call for elder financial abuse solution

  • By Kate Weber

Renewed calls to establish a national online register of Powers of Attorney have been called to protect Australia’s elderly against financial abuse.

Australian banks and older persons advocacy groups will request the online register at Friday’s Council of Attorneys General meeting in Adelaide.

The register is designed to protect the elderly against scams and fraud and will cover issues like spotting financial abuse.

CEO of the Australian Banking Association Anna Bligh said action is needed by governments to tackle the important issue of elder financial abuse. 

Speaking at the launch of the Safe and Savvy guide in Canberra Bligh said the register will empower bank branch staff as they are often the first to see signs of abuse. 

“It’s important that everyone knows about the signs of elder abuse and that staff who interact with older Australians are trained to respond appropriately where elder abuse is suspected or disclosed"

“Today we are launching a new guide, developed by the Commonwealth Bank who have generously shared it with the entire industry, to help tackle the growing problem of financial abuse, fraud and scams against older Australians. 

“This new guide will be another tool for older Australians to protect themselves against being abused, scammer or defrauded”

The Safe and Savvy Guide will contain a useful resource to help educate older Australians about what they can do to protect themselves from financial abuse, scams and fraud said Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson.

“It’s important that everyone knows about the signs of elder abuse and that staff who interact with older Australians are trained to respond appropriately where elder abuse is suspected or disclosed,” Dr Patterson said.

“I hope all banks will make this resource available in their branches and I would encourage older Australians to pick up a copy.”

Bev Lange, executive officer of Elder Abuse Action Australia said, “Tomorrow we need action on the issue of a national register as a first step towards harmonisation of Power of Attorney Laws to put the tools into the hands of those on the frontline of tackling this abuse.”

CEO of the Council on the Ageing Ian Yates said elder financial abuse is “an insidious problem” in this country and one that needs decisive action from governments at both the state and Federal level.
 
“COTA has long supported harmonisation and a national register of Powers of Attorney, as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission, and we hope tomorrow to see this become a reality,” Yates said.

The guide contains tips and advice on where the elderly can seek further advice on financial issues as well as ways to stay connected to the wider world.