Elder Abuse in Culturally Diverse Settings

On the 26th May 2015, Gaye Carrick, Executive Officer, Capacity Australia, presented news of our banking tool at the Communities Council on Ethnic Issues (CCOEI) Forum, in Victoria, “A Matter of Trust:  Financial Guarantors, Family Loans and risks in a cultural setting – Indian Communities”.

There were a range of presentations on a number of issues, including:-

  • How to protect yourself from financial abuse
  • The difficulties of ensuring quality transfer of trustworthy information; such as how information is best provided and how information vacuum between friends or elder groups may best be avoided
  • Vulnerability of elders & risk in a number of situations such as
  • Mortgages: risks and implications of adding your adult child to mortgage documents, relationship of parent to their child’s partner – what happens if divorce or separation occurs; the legal implications of elders going guarantor for children. How the Law may interpret in a very different way to traditional family values and elder expectations.
  • Granny flats and gifting rules
  • Potential abuse of mail, Centre link payments and donations in abuse situations
  • Implications of adding your child or loved one to title deeds
  • Dying without will (especially in regards to the vulnerability of the spouse when the house passes to the party on the title
  • Effect of job loss, divorce or separation, donations, death and their impacts relating to title deed
  • Understanding about what happens when bills/loans not paid and Sherriff visits
  • Exploration of common perpetrators of and reasons for such abuse eg private school fees, refinancing loan, business gone bad, gambling, alcohol, drugs. Often, the perpetrator is likely to be a male relative, often in his 40’s and living at home with elder parents.

Discussions ensued re the potential and need for research by families into above when considering transfer of assets. Eg What are the figures across the banking sector on new mortgages with an adult child in partnership with a parent? Is it increasing? What are the possible reasons? Is it a bad thing or are older parents making sure that they have an interest in an adult child’s property so they may maintain control and also have access to documents, repayments, etc? Is it mortgaging the property of older parents, so the adult child is the one who gets the benefits? (eg deposit for their own home?) Are they also signing documents such as guaranteeing other loans? Are there changes to title arrangements occurring as well, and if so, do they understand the differences between tenants in common and joint tenants?

Capacity Australia intends to pursue this clearly identified need of support for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities and health, legal and finance professionals interfacing with these communities in preventing abuse.