THE financial sector needs to work together to prevent the financial abuse of older people, Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) community lawyer Tabitha O’Shea says.
Ms O’Shea spoke at a forum held by the Primary Care Partnership yesterday to work on strategies to protect older people from financial abuse.
Bankers, financial counsellors and financial planners attended the forum led by Seniors Rights Victoria, Bendigo police and the State Trustees.
Ms O’Shea said financial abuse accounted for about
35 per cent of the cases reported to the SRV.
“It’s the most prevalent form of abuse, but I think that’s because it’s the most likely incident to have a legal remedy and people in the situation probably have no choice but to seek help,” she said.
Ms O’Shea said bank tellers played a key role in identifying people who were potentially being financially abused and referring them on to support services.
“Banking tellers are looking at everyday transactions and they know their customers,” she said.
“Banks are in a unique position to see and report abuse before it gets to a position where we have to recover assets, because often that can be a really long process and it’s not guaranteed that we will recover their funds.”
Ms O’Shea suggested it could be as simple as asking casually what the customer was going to do with their withdrawal if it was abnormally large, or pulling customers aside to make sure they were all right.