Do you understand what makes financial abuse?

Be alert to elder abuse

Financial abuse is a key element of elder abuse.

Older Tasmanians deserve to feel safe, respected and valued. It’s important that they feel secure and in control of all of their decision-making.

Elder abuse can take many forms, including when a family member seeks to take control of the older person’s finances, to their own advantage.

This is financial abuse, and it is a crime.

This behaviour can range from opportunistically stealing small amounts of cash to a more sophisticated and planned operation. Examples include limiting a person’s freedom to access their own money; forcing a person to apply for credit and then using it themselves (like in Anna’s story below); taking money out of a person’s pension without permission, or making a person change their will.

Next steps

Your safety is the most important thing. If you suspect you or someone you know is being financially abused, it’s important that you seek support before you confront the person or people who are abusing you.

Contact the Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline

You can contact the Tasmanian Elder Abuse Helpline by telephoning 1800 441 169 during business hours on week days. You can also text them on 0457 806 963 or email them on helpline@yoursaytas.org

The Helpline is operated by Advocacy Tasmania on behalf of the Tasmanian Government. It is a free and confidential service.

You will be also provided with support if you need to find an advocate, seek legal advice or contact Police.

How Anglicare can help

Anglicare runs a financial counselling service that is free, confidential and non-judgemental.

Our counsellors support people from all walks of life who find themselves – often through no fault of their own – in a difficult financial situation. This could be you, a family member or someone else that you know.

Your first port of call is the National Debt Helpline, telephone 1800 007 007. Leave your details so that a trained professional from Anglicare can return your call. We provide you with easy-to-understand information about your options and support you to regain control of your finances. We can support you in your dealings with creditors. Please note, however, that we are unable to provide you with formal financial advice.

Case study: Anna

Anna is a real Tasmanian who is a former client of Anglicare’s financial counselling service. We have changed her name to protect her privacy.

Anna’s daughter was unable to get a car loan due to her bad credit history. She asked her mother to take out a loan for a car so that her grandchildren could visit Anna more often and they could get to school more easily.

Anna agreed, and over the next 10 years she made loan repayments that added up to around $49,000. During this time she never had use of the car herself, and struggled to make ends meet trying to service the loan.

The car subsequently broke down and was sold by Anna’s daughter. Although Anna had no idea what happened to the car and didn’t receive any money from its sale, she was still held responsible for the loan repayment by the lender.

Fortunately, Anna reached out to an Anglicare financial counsellor and he was able to support her in negotiations with the lender. Although she was unable to recover the money she had already paid in interest and late fees, she did not have to pay back the balance of the loan, which was more than $6,000.

Further information

There are lots of resources on the Tasmanian Government’s Elder Abuse web page. You can also find information on the Council on the Ageing Tasmania website, including Respect and Protect Older Tasmanians – Tasmania’s elder abuse prevention strategy 2019-2022.

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