Trip up the Hume

Early yesterday morning I was heading up the Hume Highway to Wodonga on the Victoria/New South Wales border to speak with a number of people and organisations about the increasing issue of Financial Elder Abuse and to provide a greater understanding of how to protect and prevent themselves, family and friends from becoming a statistic of this hideous societal issue.

Recent research commissioned by State Trustees reveals that one in five Victorians have experienced elder abuse and sixty-eight percent of that abuse is of a financial nature. What is most concerning is that of those interviewed, eighty-five per cent agree it is easy for unscrupulous people to commit elder abuse, and thirty-one percent believe there are not adequate laws in place to prevent this crime.

To eradicate this hideous behaviour, we need to build awareness and we need to speak about what can be done to assist in prevention. Part of the mitigation you can put in place is to have a legally valid enduring power of attorney and an up-to-date will; it is important that you are confident that you can trust those you have named as your attorney and executor in those documents.

Sadly, the most common perpetrators of financial elder abuse are the eldest son in a family, and what is now emerging more and more are examples of a ‘trusted’ friend. A person that befriends the victim and then helps themselves to the victim’s assets, convincing the victim that they should rewrite their will and name them as both the executor and the benefactor, only to take everything and leave no legacy for the victim’s family, friends, or that charity that they may have been so passionate about.

I see it as my responsibility, and an obligation of State Trustees, to advocate against financial abuse, having seen all too many of these cases, and to educate the community on how best to protect your legacy and ensure you ‘live on’.

My trip to Wodonga was an opportunity to further share this messaging and build awareness, most pleasing was the interest shown by those I spoke with and the common agreement was that all of us have a role to play in eliminating elder abuse and doing all we can to protect ourselves from this before it is too late.

I also met Craig Dent, yes that’s right, my namesake; Craig is a well-known local in the region and it was a privilege to spend time with him and to learn more about him. Craig is a creative writer, music creator, photographer, mentor and teacher. Craig runs a creative youth mentor program, and like myself, advocates for continuous education and speaks of the opportunities that open up with further learning. Early this year, to celebrate his 50th birthday, Craig released ‘ghostology’, an anthology of poetry and photography from 1990-2009, it is a wonderful publication and I am thankful for the time we had together yesterday and my time in wonderful Wodonga.