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Local News

Anna Bligh calls for a shake-up to elderly financial abuse laws

One in 10 older Australians are victims of financial abuse each year.

By Sarah Macrae
Anna Bligh, the former Queensland Premier and current CEO of the Australian Banking Association (ABA), has called for changes to the current laws surrounding elder financial abuse.
"Elder financial abuse is tragically a heartbreaking reality for too many Australian families," said Bligh. "It is clear that there are some people in the community who feel that they are entitled to exploit an older person financially because they are impatient to get what they believe is their own inheritance."
This 'inheritance impatience' is becoming a growing problem. Recent research by YouGov revealed that six in 10 Australians are worried about a loved one experiencing financial abuse.
The fear is not unfounded.
Russell Westacott, CEO of Seniors Rights Service, says it is one of the most common forms of elderly abuse reported to the community legal centre with around 650-700 individual cases opened each year — a number that's on the rise.
Today, the ABA and Bauer Media — publisher of brands including The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day and Take 5 — launched the Stop Elder Financial Abuse campaign, calling for nationally consistent laws and a national Power of Attorney Register to help protect elderly people from being financially abused.
Currently Powers of Attorney — a document that authorises another person to act on legal or financial matters on their behalf if they become unable to do so — are different in every state, and have different levels of protection.
The ABA and Bauer Media are calling not only for standardised Powers of Attorney, but also a register to track them and confirm if they are legitimate. The latter is especially important given most cases of elder financial abuse involve a family member or someone the victim knows and trusts.
"Older Australians — who deserve to age with dignity, respect and financial security — are often being put at risk," says Bligh. "And it is often bank staff who are the only people who have a line of sight into somebody being exploited by a family member."
The campaign launch marks the next stage in the fight for increased awareness and improved, nationwide legislation to protect against elder financial abuse. It's something Bligh has been a passionate advocate for over the past couple of years, but she needs the help of the community to get co-ordinated action between state, territory and federal governments.

What can you do to help end elder financial abuse?

  • Ensure you and your family members have a trusted Power of Attorney to protect their assets in the future.
  • Sign our petition for nationally consistent laws and a National Power of Attorney Register.
  • Share your story of financial abuse to help others at mystory@bauer-media.com.au.

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