The Council of Australia Governments (COAG) have met today, to discuss a range of issues, including the financial abuse of the elderly.
A collective including National Seniors Australia, Council on the Ageing Australia (COTA), Legal Aid and the Australian Banking Association have co-signed a letter, which has been sent to each state and federal attorney-general.
Professor John McCallum, National Senior Interim Chief Executive Officer, states that there is about 5% of older Australians who are subjected to financial abuse.
These may appear at first glance to be a low percentage, however in 2016, there were approximately, 3.7 million (15%) of Australians over 65 years of age.
By 2056, it is projected that there will be 87 million older Australians (22% of the population). (Source: 2018, Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, website www.aihw.gov.au)
It is often the front line of banking staff and supermarket checkout assistants, that witness elderly people being taken advantage of my trusted family, friends and carers.
As quoted in the AgedCare Guide article, ‘Financial abuse is a serious and far reaching problem, that can happen to anyone, but some people, like the elderly, people with a disability, or other vulnerable and isolated people are at greater risk’, said Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh.
Many elderly Australians are in a solid financial position, resultant of the boom in real estate and wise superannuation investments. It is disturbing that there is now a term for relatives who are over-eager to access these financial benefits. They are said to be demonstrating ‘inheritance impatience’.
It is difficult to quantify the extent of elder abuse, as many of it occurs within private homes, and is unreported for a variety of reasons including shame and strained family dynamics.
This is another reason why it is essential that those most vulnerable are cared for by high-quality trained support workers, employed by agencies that actively screen their employees and operate in an accountability framework.
It is essential that if such behaviours are observed by support workers, that they follow organisational protocols for reporting of abuse, and that these organisations are supported by legal frameworks to ensure this further abuse is prevented.
More information about this can be found here: https://www.agedcareguide.com.au/talking-aged-care/seniors-groups-and-the-banking-industry-call-for-a-crack-down-on-elder-financial-abuse