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Protect yourself against elder financial abuse

5 March 2014



In the lead up to Seniors Week, Minister for Ageing John Ajaka and Attorney General Greg Smith reminded Australians to prepare for the later stages of financial life and to report elder abuse if they have any concerns for themselves or someone they know.

Minister Ajaka said everyone needs to be aware of the risks of elder abuse and know how to protect themselves.

"The NSW Government supports two initiatives to help protect elders from abuse. The Get it in Black & White campaign which encourages adults to talk to their loved ones about their future wishes and the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline which provides emergency support, practical strategies and advice," Mr Ajaka said.

"Seniors Week is an opportune time to draw attention to issues relevant to those over 65."

Attorney General Smith said the NSW Government hopes the Black and White campaign will start conversations and promote action around the importance of pre-planning by encouraging people to prepare legal instruments including appointing a power of attorney.

"Unfortunately, older people sometimes become victims of financial abuse, and often the perpetrators are the people closest to them," Mr Smith said.

"NSW Trustee and Guardian is a professional body with years of experience helping reduce the risk of costly investment mistakes. It also provides a Power of Attorney service as an alternative to friends or family members taking on the role.

"Recently an elderly woman was found to be living in two back rooms of a large neglected house. Holes were found in the walls and floors and no heating or security was installed.

"It was later revealed the woman's sons did not want to care for her, and were happy for her to stay in the house despite its dreadful condition. It is alleged her family didn't want her to sell the valuable piece of land or invest in aged care accommodation.

"The elderly woman appointed NSW Trustee and Guardian as her attorney which put in place necessary services for her including Meals on Wheels, accommodation and residential care.

"Anyone who has found themselves in a financially abusive situation – a relative has taken over their bank account or is making decisions about their wellbeing against their wishes – should call the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline and get legal advice," he said.

Minister Ajaka urged seniors to get a will and legal advice and to call the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline if they have any concerns of suspected abuse.

During Seniors Week from 15 to 23 March, NSW Trustee and Guardian is holding a special wills days throughout the State. Call 1300 364 103 to make an appointment, and for general information visit www.tag.nsw.gov.au.

The NSW Elder Abuse Helpline is a free statewide service available on weekdays from 7am-6pm on 1800 628 221.

The Black & White campaign and abuse helpline are major priorities outlined in the NSW Ageing Strategy. For more information visit www.adhc.nsw.gov.au/ageing.

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