Senior woman looking at her laptop

Older Australians must be protected against abuse

Published: 17 November 2021
  • national
  • 17 November 2021
  • Mirage News

The Law Council of Australia strongly welcomes the decision by Commonwealth, state and territory Attorneys-General to prioritise enduring power of attorney (EPOA) law reform to better protect older Australians from financial abuse.

“Our population is ageing,” Law Council of Australia President, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said.

“Older Australians are our parents, our grandparents, our aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers and friends and we need to do more to protect them.

“The Law Council and others, including the Age Discrimination Commissioner, have been calling for these reforms for five years, so we are pleased the nation’s Attorneys-General have recognised the urgent need for a more consistent approach to governing EPOAs.”

EPOA arrangements are intended to ensure a person’s interests are protected when they lose capacity to make decisions for themselves. However, in the absence of adequate legal safeguards, financial elder abuse by appointed decision-makers may be facilitated by such arrangements.

“What this means is that those who we expect to care for us when we may no longer be able to fully care for ourselves, take advantage of the trust placed in them. Tragically, this abuse is often perpetrated by a family member.

“It is estimated that as many as 185,000 older Australians experience some form of abuse or neglect each year and that financial abuse is the most prevalent form.”