One step closer to protecting older Australians

The Stop Elder Financial Abuse campaign today held a Federal Parliament launch to brief Members and Senators on the actions needed to tackle the growing problem.

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.

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.

Brendon Hill, CEO of Bauer Media said: “Elder financial abuse disproportionally affects women, with six in ten Australians saying they are worried someone they know will be the victim of this insidious practice.

“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,” he said.

Nicole Byers, editor-in-chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly, said: “We are campaigning for three important reforms which will go some way to ensuring this abuse is significantly eroded and we hope, eventually eradicated.

“The Australian Women’s Weekly has campaigned for the empowerment of women for decades and we’re delighted to be leading this important initiative,” she said.

Craig Gear, CEO of the Older Persons Advocacy Network, said a better system was needed, without differences from state to state, to help address the issue.

“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,” he said.

A recent survey by YouGov revealed 57% of Australians are worried about a loved one experiencing financial abuse and 87% of Australians want their government to do more to tackle the issue. It is estimated that around 1 in 10 older Australians experience elder abuse in any given year, with the prevalence of neglect possibly higher.

The Australian Banking Association and Bauer Media have teamed up, along with the Seniors Rights Service, Elder Abuse Action Australia, the Older Persons Advocacy Network and the Council on the Ageing, to campaign for three key changes which can tackle the growing issue of elder financial abuse.

The campaign specifically calls on governments across Australia to act and establish:

  1. Power of Attorney laws which are the same across the country and protect people from this kind of abuse.
  2. A National Power of Attorney (POA) register to check if POA documents are legitimate and current.
  3. Somewhere to report abuse in each state that can investigate and act.

To sign the petition or for more information on the campaign click here.