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.
/Public Release. View in full here.