By Lyn Dundon, Projects Coordinator, Financial Counselling Victoria

Financial Counselling Victoria partnered with ECCV to run an online workshop in February to help multicultural leaders, community organisations and bicultural workers understand financial elder abuse.

Right now, we are seeing the impacts of rising interest rates combined with soaring food, fuel and energy prices, leaving more and more Australians facing financial hardship. Adult children are leaning on their parents for support and older people may not be aware that the financial demands made by family and friends can lead to mistreatment or elder abuse.

Financial abuse can take many forms. It can involve pressuring an older person to give or loan money, possessions (e.g. jewellery) or property, or it can involve taking those things without asking.

Other examples include not contributing to household expenses such as rent or food while living with the older person, pressuring the older person to make or change their will, and making financial decisions for the older person without their permission.

Older people are often afraid to report abuse because they fear repercussions for themselves and the person mistreating them. They may only seek help when the situation escalates to an extreme level or when someone else notices the ongoing mistreatment.

Older people also fear negative outcomes of reporting abuse, such as worsening abuse, having to leave their home and enter aged care, and increased isolation and loneliness.

These fears pose a significant barrier to older people getting the help they need.

“We want older people in Victoria to feel more comfortable talking about money concerns with friends and family, while also being empowered to stand up to financial abuse,” says Financial Counselling Victoria’s Executive Officer, Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope.

“We want them to have easy access to tools and resources that help them get the assistance they’re entitled to. We want them to know they have a support system that includes financial counsellors who can help them with their money, especially when the cost of living is going up.

“We also want them to know they can talk to someone if they think they’re being mistreated, and that talking to a financial counsellor will always be free, confidential and non-judgemental.”

FCVic has online resources that can help seniors assess their financial health, build their financial capability and connect to a financial counsellor in their local area, including translated material and ‘Quick Guides’ videos in 11 languages.

For more information, visit FCVic’s website.

This article was published in the
Autumn 2024
edition of Golden Years.