Aged care Royal Commission welcome, must include scrutiny of elder financial abuse

16 September 2018
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have today welcomed the announcement of a Royal Commission into aged care and have called for elder financial abuse to also be scrutinised as part of the inquiry.

Maurice Blackburn National Head of Wills and Estates Law Andrew Simpson said elder financial abuse remained a key issue across a range of aged care settings, and in many instances was under-reported, as financial abuse was often perpetrated by relatives or close friends that made it difficult for older people to speak out and seek help.

“Sadly there are a number of issues that need to be looked at within the aged care sector as many services have been found to be deficient in providing appropriate standards of care,” Mr Simpson said.

“The announcement of a Royal Commission into the aged care sector is a welcome development, and we hope that it will provide opportunities for senior Australians and their families to come forward and to speak out to deliver a better standard of care in the future.

“It is also crucial that the Royal Commission is given sufficient time to look at all issues in full – there are many areas that will need to be scrutinised and the Royal Commission must be given the time needed to do this.

“In particular we continue to see instances of elder financial abuse across a range of aged care settings including within residential aged care and community aged care that we believe warrants further scrutiny through any Royal Commission.

“People impacted by elder financial abuse are often embarrassed or afraid to speak out or can’t speak out because the abuse in many instances is perpetrated by someone trusted that they are reliant on, such as a relative or friend.

“When they do speak out though it can then be very difficult for older people to get the help they need – for many individuals it is virtually impossible to navigate and negotiate the different services that might be able to help.

“Those issues extend beyond those being impacted by abuse, many professionals such as bank tellers and medical professionals also see instances of elder abuse but they have nowhere to go as a first port of call to report this and seek assistance.

“For some time now we have called for safeguarding laws in all states and the need for a dedicated agency that can receive complaints of elder financial abuse to help to put those impacted in touch with services that can do something about this or further escalate concerns as needed.

“We hope that with the added scrutiny of a Royal Commission into the aged care sector that elder financial abuse can also be looked at closely in seeking to improve services and access to these services for older people and their families,” he said.