The Public Trustee warns Queenslanders to keep an eye out for potential financial abuse
21 April 2021
Seniors are at greater risk of elder abuse going under the radar due to COVID -19.
The Acting Public Trustee and CEO, Samay Zhouand said that due to the pandemic, we are seeing increased isolation and a reduced line of sight on members of the community who are at greater risk of elder abuse.
“It’s sad reality, but the majority of cases of financial elder abuse involve direct family members, trusted friends, caregivers, or their attorneys, when someone loses capacity,” Mr Zhouand said.
“Often the perpetrator operates under the guise of caring for and protecting the affected person.
“We have seen cases where even family members take financial control of their parents due to financial downturn, mental illness, substance abuse or high stress situations.”
Like any type of elder abuse, financial abuse can be devastating to the victims, but it is often harder to recognise due to the nature of the relationships older Queenslanders may have with the perpetrators.
Attorney-General, Shannon Fentiman, said elder abuse is a matter Queenslanders should be aware of and one that is taken seriously.
“The Queensland Guardianship system is vital in protecting Queenslanders, including the older members of our community,” Minister Fentiman said.
The work of the Queensland Guardianship system has led to the arrest of the perpetrators of financial elder abuse as well as recovery of millions of dollars defrauded funds.
“Without this system, many cases of elder abuse would go unnoticed or unreported with severe consequences to some of our most vulnerable,” added Minister Fentiman.
UnitingCare, who lead the state’s Elder Abuse Prevention Unit, says speaking out against elder abuse is a critical first step in addressing the problem in Queensland.
“The Elder Abuse Helpline is designed to support anyone who experiences, witnesses or suspects abuse of an older person by someone they know and trust,” said Luke Lindsay, General Manager – Family and Disability Services.
“If you are an older person experiencing abuse, or an advocate of an older person you are concerned may be the victim of abuse, our message to you is please speak up and reach out.”
The Public Trustee strongly encourages people to reach out to the Elder Abuse hotline on 1300 651 192 to report their suspicions of any form of elder abuse.
“Having your affairs in order can help to protect Queenslanders against financial abuse,” Mr Zhouand said.
“Enduring powers of attorney and nominated person arrangements play a vital role in protecting yourself and your future.”
For further information or personal legal advice, contact an estate and life planning solicitor. To find an accredited specialist, visit: www.qls.com.au/For_the_community/Find_a_solicitor or reach out to the Public Trustee on 1300 360 044.
If you see signs of elder abuse, please contact the Elder Abuse Helpline: 1300 651 192. For more information visit www.pt.qld.gov.au
Media Manager – Public Trustee
0466 320 688