Power of attorney order changes will protect against elder financial abuse

Australian Banking Association statement – May 2018

The announcement in this month’s federal budget of a move to standardise power-of-attorney orders and create a national online register will help empower bank staff as they play their part in tackling the growing problem of financial abuse against the elderly across the country.

In February this year, the Australian Banking Association renewed calls for three key reforms to be underway by Christmas to tackle elder financial abuse, one of which was a national register of power-of-attorney orders and another a standardisation across the country.

CEO of the Australian Banking Association Anna Bligh said that the announcement was a strong and decisive move in the right direction and would help give bank staff the tools needed to tackle financial abuse of elderly Australians.

“Bank staff are seeing firsthand the effects of elder abuse at the bank branch, call centres and online through internet banking,” Ms Bligh said.

“Banks and their staff have a role to play in tackling elder financial abuse however they need key changes to the law to empower them to do this.

“The proposal by the Federal Government in last night’s budget of a move to standardise power of attorney orders and to make them easily accessible online is a major step in the right direction.

“It’s now up to the states and territories to work quickly and constructively to see these proposals become a reality and all parties should not let this process get bogged down in unnecessary red tape.

“With these key changes underway, there still remains one decision change needed by Christmas being legal changes to help bank employees safety report suspected financial abuse to a designated body.

“With the two of the three key initiatives called for by Australia’s banks in February already underway, it’s encouraging to see the issue of financial abuse against our elderly citizens grow in importance – as it rightly should.”