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The Australian Guardianship and Administration Council Conference 2022

The Australian Guardianship and Administration Council (AGAC) is the national peak body for Australia’s Public Advocates, Public Guardians, Public or State Trustees and the heads of State and Territory adult guardianship tribunal lists.

The AGAC conference recently took place in Melbourne (and online). The theme of this year’s conference was Renewal: Putting rights into practice.

Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV)’s Principal Lawyer and Manager, Rebecca Edwards, was invited to speak to the conference as part of a panel on  financial elder abuse. Other panel members were Senior Sergeant Alasdair Gall from Victoria Police, Luke Wright from State Trustees and Sonia Di Mezza, CEO of Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services.

From left to right: Sonia Di Mezza, Senior Sergeant Alasdair Gall, Rebecca Edwards, and Luke Wright

Rebecca spoke to attendees about the various ways that financial abuse can manifest, including money being spent without consent or knowledge, someone not repaying loans made to them by an older person and someone misusing powers under an Enduring Power of Attorney.

Rebecca explained that some of the above examples might be considered theft. However, for police, proving theft can be difficult given the burden of proof in a criminal matter. Civil action by SRV’s lawyers on behalf of a client can sometimes be successful in recouping some of the losses.

Rebecca highlighted the ways that SRV works to combat elder abuse particularly around prevention and viewing issues holistically in order to, where possible, resolve issues without legal action being required, which greatly reduces financial and emotional stress.

Rebecca also talked through some of the policy and advocacy that SRV believes will reduce the risks of elder abuse including:

  • Banks requesting that older people seek independent financial or legal advice before providing loans or gifts
  • Banks being more alert to dramatic changes in spending patterns of older people
  • Centrelink ensuring care is being provided by people claiming carer payments
  • Assistance for older people to formalise assets for care, granny flat arrangements, and family agreements including funding services to provide such advice 
  • Fast tracking the return of people’s pensions when agreements can be shown to have been breached
  • Continuing to increase police awareness of financial elder abuse and capability to investigate financial elder abuse
  • A clear process for stamp duty relief in cases of elder abuse
  • Harmonisation and a national register of Powers of Attorneys
  • Anti-ageism work
  • Supportive decision making education campaigns
  • Financial literacy for single older women
  • Requiring some minimum  training for people who  agree to be an attorney under a Power of Attorney

To learn more about The Australian Guardianship and Administration Council (AGAC)  https://www.agac.org.au/

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If you, or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, help is available through our confidential helpline on 1300 368 821. If it is an emergency, call 000.
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