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Urgent action needed on Power of Attorney laws

Council of the Ageing (COTA) Australia has called for urgent action to end the financial elder abuse that occurs through the misuse of Power of Attorney. It calls for action to “mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, EVERY DAY”.

Published: 6 July 2023
  • national
  • 6 July 2023
  • COTA Australia

COTA’s is one of the many voices in a growing movement demanding focus on the elder abuse that is expected as more and more ageing Baby Boomers hand over their wealth and the management of their assets to their children.

According to COTA, research shows that perpetrators of abuse are often family members. It is mostly adult children, but can also be friends, neighbours, and acquaintances. Over 60% of older people do not seek help when they are abused.

Federal, State and Territory Governments need to urgently fast-track the introduction of nationally consistent, strong Power of Attorney laws which protect older Australians from abuse says COTA Australia, the peak advocacy body for older Australians.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Officer, Patricia Sparrow, said elder abuse takes many forms and Australia needs to take action on numerous fronts, but fixing the Power of Attorney laws is an obvious and timely step. Over 1 in 6 older Australians will experience elder abuse each year. "Government action for a nationally consistent legal framework for Powers of Attorney will go some way to address the problem,” Ms Sparrow says.

"Each State and Territory has its own laws and different approaches to Power of Attorneys which is a major impediment to a comprehensive approach to protection from elder abuse.

The inconsistencies in Australia’s various Power of Attorney laws make it easier for older people with diminished capacity to make decisions for themselves, including those with dementia, to be abused."

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