Elder financial abuse is a complex and sensitive issue with potentially life changing consequences for the older person and their families. Financial institutions like ANZ have an important role to play in helping to identify elder abuse, support at-risk customers and raise awareness of the issue.
Unfortunately, we see examples of elder abuse happening far too often. It’s estimated 6 per cent of Australians have been the victim of elder abuse and, due to our aging population, this is expected to increase over time.
“The types of abuse can range from a person spending money without permission, forging a person’s signature, coercing them to sign a document or controlling their money.”
Recent Victoria Police data show family violence against people aged 65+ has increased by 34 per cent since 2016 with more than 5,000 reports made in 2020 alone.
Elder abuse, which can include financial abuse, is a form of family violence. However, the harm from this abuse is not just financial and can also cause psychological and even physical damage if a person’s access to basic needs are not met.
And while it can happen to anyone, there are certain people who are more at risk of elder abuse – people living alone or who might be isolated, people with a disability, people with low financial literacy and those experiencing language or cultural barriers.
The types of abuse can range from a person spending money without permission, forging a person’s signature, coercing them to sign a document or controlling their money.
All frontline staff at ANZ are required to undertake training to help them identify and support customers who may experience circumstances that increase their risk of financial abuse.
Now, Victoria Police is leading a trial to strengthen how we as a community can identify and respond to elder abuse, including financial harm.
ANZ is participating in the trial through its Mornington Peninsula branches, where branch managers have been engaged with Police and local community organisations to share insights and raise awareness of these complex issues.
ANZ Senior Retail Performance Manager Mark Davis says the trial educates branch staff about the serious nature of elder abuse and how to identify and prevent harm.
“It’s important for our people to be able to support customers through many forms of hardship and that includes any form of financial abuse.”
Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh says the banking industry has well developed processes in place to prevent and assist customers impacted by financial abuse.
“I encourage anyone concerned about themselves or others to contact your bank,” she continues.