National plan to stop elder abuse

Federal and state attorneys agree to work together to prevent neglect.

National plan to stop elder abuse

Federal Attorney General Christian Porter has promised a national plan to stop physical, emotional and financial abuse of people living in care.

Commonwealth and state attorneys have agreed to work together after a report from the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) highlighted a litany of examples of serious physical abuse, financial abuse, neglect and exploitation of older people.

Mr Porter told an elder abuse conference in Sydney on Tuesday that getting co-operation with the state governments was a vital element in stamping out elder abuse and the next step involved mapping the problem.

“We have all seen or heard stories about older people facing abuse in a variety of circumstances, from financial pressure to provide family members money or change wills to abuses in aged care settings,” Mr Porter said.

“But right now, we don’t have a detailed picture of the problem in Australia. What we do know from overseas studies is that elder abuse affects between two and 12 per cent of older people and it affects both men and women.

“As part of our 2016, $15 million election commitment to protect the rights of older Australians, the Turnbull Government will fund a national study to examine the prevalence of elder abuse in our society and provide evidence-based findings to inform the national plan.

“The national study will provide a strong evidence base to ensure that the national plan provides an appropriate framework for strategies and actions that all sectors of the community can take to protect older Australians from abuse and, in the future, track our progress in protecting them from abuse,” Mr Porter explained.

Shadow Attorney Mark Dreyfus also told the conference that Labor fully supported the national plan to address elder abuse.

“Where cost of living pressures and inaccessibility of affordable housing are pronounced, there exists a social environment where (elder abuse) is likely to become more prevalent,” Mr Dreyfus told the conference.

“Labor is committed at all levels of government to combating elder abuse in all its forms and will work with the government on implementing recommendations.”

As recommended by the ALRC, the National Plan has five goals:

  • promote the autonomy and agency of older people
  • address ageism and promote community understanding of elder abuse
  • achieve national consistency
  • safeguard at-risk older people and improve responses
  • build the evidence basis.

Do you know anyone who has been a victim of elder abuse? Have you been in a position where you have had to consider reporting someone for any type of abuse?

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    COMMENTS

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    Kathleen
    21st Feb 2018
    10:36am
    Is it a good idea to have a Power of Attorney? My sister has had one for 30 years.
    You cannot draw one up once you have issues like Alzheimer’s or illness and then you are at the mercy of strangers.
    If you go into a nursing home you have to have one.
    We are hoping to stay in our own home and gradually add care as we age.
    We are both in our seventies,
    Puglet
    21st Feb 2018
    2:00pm
    Hi Kathleen my children are enduring and joint powers of attorney for me but I know of a number of cases where the EPOA has been abused.I was the sole EPOA and executor of her will for my mum and her only living relative in OZ. If I so wished I could have stolen the lot. Neither she or anyone else would have been any the wiser. I withdrew quite a few thousand dollars from her accounts and of course the bank didn’t and should not have questioned these withdrawals. I think there has to be a better system of ensuring POA and staff in nursing homes who manage residents’ money remain honest and accountable. I think many people don’t realise that nurses or management in aged care may be given POA for residents especially if the resident has dementia. Theft may be rare but it happens.
    Kathleen
    21st Feb 2018
    2:16pm
    Thanks Puglet. We are about to do the same thing.
    You don’t want a stranger managing your affairs.
    To have several is a good idea too.
    Puglet
    21st Feb 2018
    2:31pm
    I would have felt far more comfortable handling my mum’s money if the POA was shared with another person. There was nobody for me to discuss decisions with consequently I became almost paranoid about creating a ‘money trail’ - I could account for every cent of mum’s money. If only I was careful with my own dough!
    Anonymous
    22nd Feb 2018
    11:29am
    I was equally careful, Puglet, but partly because I was aware there was a nasty relative who would snatch any opportunity to accuse me of wrong-doing and put me through hell if I couldn't easily prove the allegations false.

    Yes, it is often very easy for someone holding a POA to rip an older person off.

    I was aware of an instance of serious elder abuse by theft and threat, forgery, and threat of physical harm. Unfortunately, I could not report it because the victim was adamant that she did not want the perpetrator charged. After her death, I reported it, but police were not interested then.
    Nan Norma
    21st Feb 2018
    10:59am
    I've heard it all before and nothing changes. Thousands of dollars spent on seminars and putting out books of reports. Some elderly people are being treated just as badly in their own family members, namely children. I could go on but I'm sure you've heard it all before.
    Anonymous
    22nd Feb 2018
    11:39am
    Too true, Norma. I know one who went into aged care for protection because her daughter was abusing her - stealing her money and mistreating her.
    Polly Esther
    21st Feb 2018
    11:11am
    It is my belief and my thoughts on this subject, and I am open to be proven wrong.
    Until they enact a law that makes it a criminal offence punishable in a court of law by a judge and Jury or Judge alone or magistrate, then I'm afraid 'elder abuse' is no more than talk. Simply pie in the sky talk. There is a lot of talk about it done by lawyers, police etc. condemning it but when pressed to act on your behalf, they say we can do nothing about it, except to talk about it. I have suffered personal experience with it unfortunately, and of course many others have also, I pray for them. At the moment it is simply a very bad joke. I only hope the Federal Attorney General Mr. Porter's plan is just that, to have it made a criminal offence. I wish him all the strength.
    CG
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:53pm
    In total agreement with this statement. I have been working in aged care for more than 35 years and have seen all forms of financial and physical abuse by, mostly family members and some community "good" samaritans, to the elderly.

    Until this made a criminal offence and retrospective back to when the abuse started, which it is not at the present time, it is just politician speak.
    PlanB
    21st Feb 2018
    11:11am
    I have phoned and emailed Christian Porter b4 when he was in the other position and never once got a reply -- he is full of BS and doesn't care a darn, the same as the lot of them
    Anonymous
    21st Feb 2018
    5:08pm
    And this is the a***hole that cut overseas travel time down to 6 weeks before it affects your pension; don't expect anything worthwhile from this idiot.
    PlanB
    21st Feb 2018
    11:14am
    I also think that anyone working with Elders/Children or Animals all need to have a character check AND there also needs to be many more carers in nursing homes etc -- all with a charter check
    KSS
    21st Feb 2018
    12:38pm
    Agree PlanB but can't see that getting over the line if you include family members who may well be the abuser. And what about friends who are the 'registered' carer but who are not 'employed' or 'working'
    with elderly.
    PlanB
    21st Feb 2018
    2:14pm
    Yes KSS, there can be a problem with family apparently but there also have been some awful abuse at homes and such -- with Elders even getting MURDERED with the wrong Meds etc -- and left in a mess when they are unable to help themselves -- it breaks my heart to hear of this and I just wish I was fit and able enough to volunteer my time to help a little
    KSS
    21st Feb 2018
    3:31pm
    And that is where a 'working with the elderly check' can be useful PlanB. However, it would always have its limitation just like the working with children checks in that you have to have been 'caught' for anything to show on the check.

    21st Feb 2018
    11:38am
    To answer the questions put; I have not suffered elder abuse, I am not aware of anyone who has suffered elder abuse and I have, thankfully, never been in a position where I have had to consider reporting anyone for elder abuse.

    I am, however, surprised that no mention has been made of the announcement by the banking industry that they will be taking steps to train their front-line staff to recognise and report any signs of elder abuse of their customers. Isn't it amazing how caring the banking industry has become now that a Royal Commission into the Banking Industry has been commenced. They have dropped interest rates and fees on credit cards (not much but at least it's a reduction) Dropped fees for using other banks' ATM's and now this. My cynicism suggests that there is more window dressing yet to be announced.
    KSS
    21st Feb 2018
    12:42pm
    There's no mention Old Man because it doesn't fit the 'demonise the banks at all costs' agenda.

    Regardless of motivation, noticing when an elderly customer suddenly starts withdrawing (or transferring) large sums of money is something banks and other financial institutions are uniquely placed to do. So good on them for joining the issue.
    Puglet
    21st Feb 2018
    3:46pm
    OM I share your distrust of banks but I can’t think of other ways to stop financial abuse of the elderly by trusted,people who have been given control of their parents accounts. In WA three sons all with Power of Attorney conspired to bankrupt their parents (both with dementia). They sold the couple’s house even though one person lived in it, sold other properties and took money needed for daily living. Bank personnel could have stopped it much earlier. Interestingly grand children realised what was happening and reported their parents to the authorities but the money was gone!
    Tib
    21st Feb 2018
    1:08pm
    I'm pleased to see they have included both men and women. Too often women are the only ones allowed to be a victim and men's needs are ignored. Hopefully this will continue once funds are allocated to combat the problem.
    Anonymous
    22nd Feb 2018
    11:38am
    But only people in aged care. What about the elderly living at home? They are equally at risk - often at greater risk!
    Linda
    21st Feb 2018
    1:34pm
    My concern with this topic is the way institutions offer poor kinds of contracts for people who need support services, elderly and infirm people. Unless that aspect is also examined it will only cover part of the problems folks are having. Home Care packages come with contracts that can be as tricky as shopping for telephone services, and if one is elderly and sick and trusting they can easily be done over. These things are too complex and comparisons between services are difficult to make. I presume the same is true for the financial side of nursing homes. Yes some families are doing the wrong thing, some are trying but are unable to do what is needed. Some times it comes down to a lack of choice cause there is not enough to go around.
    Mad as Hell
    21st Feb 2018
    4:32pm
    After years of retirement planning I and 330,000 elders are now suffering elder abuse by the LNP and GREENS who have stolen all or part of our pension. The LNP did not have a mandate to change the Pensioner Assets Test, in fact they dishonoured an election iron clad promise not to change pensions. Not looking forward to the LNP and GREENS ever taking care of pensioners.
    Anonymous
    22nd Feb 2018
    11:31am
    You got that right, Mad as Hell. No way can anyone trust these bastards. They are the worst abusers of all - not just with legislative changes, but with the constant harping about retirees being ''a burden'' and ''costing too much'' and their nasty references to ''leaners''. Disgraceful!
    GeorgeM
    23rd Feb 2018
    9:01pm
    Absolutely, Mad as hell, I can't believe this mob will actually do anything good either after their broken promises. But, add Labor to the list of no-good parties as well, as they promised not to revert the nasty change to assets test, and previously raised the pension age as well. Chris Bowen helped Labor to lose, and they haven't learned.
    The only option is to vote all sitting members of these 3 parties last in preferences to shake up the system and get rid of as many of these self-serving leeches (with their fancy pensions) as possible.
    Mad as Hell
    24th Feb 2018
    4:33pm
    Yes you are correct George Labour has stated not to reverse changes to Pensioner Assets Test, I will find it hard to give them support.

    21st Feb 2018
    4:44pm
    Sadly, elder abuse will never be stopped, because the worst aspects of human nature never change.
    Pudding
    21st Feb 2018
    5:41pm
    I believe that something needs to be done with Gov Bodies empowered with looking after peoples money. There are things in place for elderly to use to save money, but they are not used and they are charged heaps more.
    Charlie
    21st Feb 2018
    10:55pm
    It seems to me a bit strange, that within a few months of Victoria's assisted dying laws, a whole lot of unusual deaths at age care facilities start to pop up on the news.

    Almost as if somebody didn't quite understand what it was all about.
    VeryCaringBigBear
    22nd Feb 2018
    8:14am
    Powers of Attorney are nothing but invitations for thieves. I know of one fellow whose mother had him as her executor and power of attorney. Shortly before his mother died his sister had a new will and power of attorney written up naming her as executor etc. It came to light she had "borrowed" a lot of money from her mother and decided she deserved it and she shouldn't be required to pay it back to share with her siblings. Her actions have broken up the whole family where no one has anything to do with their siblings.
    Anonymous
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:16pm
    How many times do you hear of a son or daughter abusing their powers as Power of Attorney.
    Nan Norma
    23rd Feb 2018
    9:19pm
    It is too easy for a E.P of A to be written up.

    22nd Feb 2018
    1:15pm
    Most elder abuse comes from family members. I know! The problem lies in that the person being abuses does not want to take the matter further because it their child doing the abusing and therein lies the problem.
    Anonymous
    26th Feb 2018
    4:54pm
    Yep. That's how it was in my family. Victim stayed silent and abuser got off completely free after defrauding, forging signature, and engaging in ongoing psychological abuse and threat of physical harm. Then she challenged the will, claiming it was unfair. She's already ripped off the deceased for half her wealth, but she insisted she should get more than half of what was left. Trouble is, when someone challenges a will in NSW, the rightful beneficiary has lost before a battle even begins. The courts put a loaded gun in the challenger's hand and tell them to extort for all they are worth. Even if there is a rock-solid, irrefutable defence, it probably won't get to court due to legal costs and even if it does, a huge chunk of the estate goes to lawyers. The challenger can lose - in very rare circumstances - but they NEVER have to pay the full legal costs or suffer any penalty for greed and lies. So it seems abusers are actually rewarded by the system often. No wonder it continues.
    Nan Norma
    26th Feb 2018
    5:17pm
    One problem is, it is too easy to get EP of A, then they can do what they want. My mother signed with no idea what she was doing and the next thing $500 has gone from her bank account. that was only the beginning.
    Lou Lou
    12th Jun 2018
    11:10am
    How true you all are I had a EPA when my husband was diagnoised with dementia in beknown to me his corporate daughter had already forced him to over and take out a power of Attorney then they their sibling
    Got him to sign a binding nomination for all our investment money . When he went crazy one day and was going to with draw funds from our joint acc I went and with drew half our savings . His daughter knowing his mental state has slowly been poisoning his mind against me telling him I was stealing all his money. When his children from his first marriage found out I had taken that money they all hanged up on me and forced me out
    Forced me to sell the house gave me one week to move .
    That was ten months ago they won’t settle I can’t touch the money from our house till settlement I’ve used nearly all the money I took in legal cost and his daughter being a lawyer has known from day one how much money I have and is waiting till I have very little then offer me next to nothing . We were married 30 years in that whole time these children of his never socialised with me as they lived interstate . Our son from our marriage is now caring for him as he knows they will stick him into a home he sits now all day alone. While she controls all his money. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do
    As when I do get my pittance of money I won’t be able to even buy a unit at 67 and who will lend to me. I have contacted every agency including the elder abuse and no
    One cares except to say yes we’ve heard similar story’s
    Well this is the point to my story I had an EPA over My husband but as the law stands anyone can change that
    And the person holding it does not have to be informed.
    So really the paper it’s written on is not worth the money it’s written on. I’ve made many mistakes along the way but who prepares you for this hind sight is a wonderfull thing. I should have done what the first lawyer said and that is take it out of his daughters hands
    But when I got an estimate of those cost I nearly fainted.
    But I laugh now as I’ve spent $20,000 now and still have nothing. I’m living in a unit which I had one week to find
    Two weeks before Xmas last year I pay $410 a week out of the age pension and am under 1 year lease . How I’ll last out is beyond me . I informed our dr all this was happening the dementia foundation no one helps.
    My husband who I since found out also is a narcissist
    As too his daughter the corporate lawyer in Sydney
    Along with the dementia planned all this and were in the processes of getting the deeds to the house and having
    them changed which would then have left me nothing.
    All I’m guilty of is loving caring my husband son house garden our dogs my garden which I lost in the blink of an eye. He has not spoken one word to me since that day
    I have PTSS which most get after leaving a narcissit
    Realation ship because they only see you as an object .
    When the no longer need you they just toss you aside.
    Under the mental health you get 10 free sessions a year
    I could do with 10 sessions a month after the stress I’ve
    had. I’ve totally lost all trust in human beings.
    My kids say mum just move on that’s easy for them to say
    How do you erase 30 years over night who’s going to employee me how am
    I going to get a loan easier said than done. I to all you
    Out there saying that couldn’t happen to me that’s what I thought 12 months ago. Do you really know what your partner is doing have you checked if your POA or EP is valed ? Because as I said they don’t need to let you know
    If they rewrite a new one they could give it to there favourite child like mine did his golden daughter who unknown to him is just abusing him. I plan to leave Adelaide after this is over and move to the Sunshine Coast where my daughter lives with my grandchildren
    But I will be leaving all my best friends behind who have been a tower of strength to me through this.
    Everyday is like a living night mare that I can’t wake up from .