Banks are being urged to mark Elder Abuse Day today by appointing in-branch staff dedicated to protecting older Australians from financial exploitation. Source: SBS
Advocacy group Greysafe is concerned bank jobs cuts and new technologies are exposing elderly customers to new threats of financial abuse.
"We've heard many reports of perpetrators spending the money of their victims without permission, forging signatures or forcing older Australians to sign bank forms," Greysafe chief Mike Cahill said.
"Unfortunately, when faced with new technology and change, older Australians will often put trust in a family member to help or take control of their banking, thus putting them at greater risk of financial abuse and manipulation."
Last week, the banking industry and seniors groups successfully lobbied state and federal attorneys-general to progress standardised power of attorney orders to prevent vulnerable parents from "inheritance impatience".
Mr Cahill believes having dedicated and properly trained "elder protection officers" in branches will also leave banks less exposed to adverse action and potential compensation payments.
Leading Age Services Australia is the peak national body representing providers of residential care, home care and retirement living.
Its chief executive Sean Rodney points out elder abuse can be physical, psychological or financial.
"Our community must have zero tolerance towards elder abuse," Mr Rodney said.
"We all have a role to play in identifying, empowering people and ending elder abuse."
On the eve of Elder Abuse Day, it was announced older Australians suffering abuse and their families would be able to seek expert help from a new national body.
Senior rights groups from each of the states will partner with the federal government under Elder Abuse Action Australia to protect people from financial and physical abuse.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the new body would help tackle serious crimes of fraud and theft.
Calls for bank staff to thwart elder abuse (SBS News)
Time for action on Elder Financial Abuse (Australian Banking Association)