The Australian Banking Association (ABA) and Bauer Media have partnered to launch a campaign aimed at preventing elder financial abuse.
The “Stop Elder Financial Abuse” campaign held a Federal Parliament launch last week to brief ministers and senators on the actions needed to address the growing issue.
The ABA and the publishing company are working with the Senior Rights Service, Elder Abuse Action Australia, the Older Persons Advocacy Network and the Council on the Ageing to campaign for three key changes that can tackle elder financial abuse.
The campaign specifically calls on governments across Australia to act and establish a Power of Attorney laws that are consistent across the country, a National Power of Attorney (POA) register to check if POA documents are legitimate and current, and somewhere to report abuse in each state that can investigate and act.
Speaking at the launch, Attorney-General Christian Porter announced his plan for the next Council of Attorneys-General meeting to set baseline standards of a national model of Power of Attorneys to enable a national register to be established.
Older Persons Advocacy Network chief executive Craig Gear said the country needed a system that did not differ from state to state.
“Today’s announcement of a way forward on Power of Attorney reforms is a very welcome step by the federal government, and we encourage all state governments to move ahead on this initiative as quickly as possible,” Mr Gear said.
“Laws that are the same in each state, plus a national online register, will mean elderly people can put their affairs in order without the added stress of updating it or starting again should they choose to move.”
A recent YouGov survey revealed that 57 per cent of Australians are worried about a loved one experiencing financial abuse, and 87 per cent of Australians want their government to do more to tackle this issue.
It is estimated that around one in 10 older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, with the prevalence of neglect possibly higher.
Bauer Media CEO Brendon Hill said elder financial abuse affects women disproportionately, with six in 10 Australians expressing concern someone they know will fall victim to it.
“As an organisation that talks to, champions and celebrates women of all ages, Bauer Media is committed to working closely with the ABA and others to drive meaningful change,” Mr Hill said.
CEO of the Australian Banking Association Anna Bligh said the launch was an important opportunity to bring the issue to the front and centre of the minds of the nation’s decision-makers ahead of the Council of Attorneys-General meeting in November.
“The industry welcomes Attorney-General Christian Porter’s determination and leadership to progress these reforms, along with action from the state governments, at the upcoming Council of Attorneys-General meeting in November,” Ms Bligh said.
In June 2018, the ABA, National Seniors, the Council on the Ageing, the Older Persons Action Network and the Financial Services Union launched a campaign that called on Australians to write to the Attorneys-General asking for change to ensure that bank staff could properly deter elder financial abuse.
Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.
Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.