Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Justice Matters

WA Labor to protect seniors from financial elder abuse

Labor Statement February 22

A WA Labor Government will change laws relating to Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) to combat and prevent financial elder abuse, Shadow Minister for Seniors Margaret Quirk said today.

Ms Quirk said financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse and generally involves a family member seeking to transfer financial or real property. Research shows 84 per cent of people experiencing financial abuse also experience psychological abuse.

"Western Australia's population is aging and we must take on that challenge and protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community," Ms Quirk said.

"Existing laws do not sufficiently protect the elderly from fraud or theft of assets, usually by a family member or trusted individual.

"Seniors are vulnerable to financial elder abuse as they may try to save on living costs by moving in with their adult children or by transferring property into their children's name," she said.

"WA Labor will change these laws as a matter or priority to make it more difficult for this abuse to occur. We've had a few high profile and appalling cases in the last few years and it is important adequate protections exist.

"We will immediately refer the matter to the Law Reform Commission for an inquiry into what changes need to be made to strengthen existing laws and to draft model laws.

"We will also take the issue to the relevant Ministerial Council to initiate uniform laws on EPAs throughout Australia. This means current issues where EPAs are either executed in another state or executed here, and the Attorney lives in another State, are streamlined."

Ms Quirk said WA Labor would also provide Advocare and the Older Persons Rights Service $100,000 each to conduct training for professionals such as GPs, real estate agents, accountants, nurses and bank officers and all those likely to come into contact with elderly persons so they can recognise the signs of financial elder abuse.

"It's important that staff at organisations like Advocare are given additional resources to be able to provide the appropriate training to enable others to recognise the warnings signs," she said.

"WA Labor values Western Australian seniors and wants to ensure they are protected from financial elder abuse."

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