Suncorp and the Queensland Office of the Public Guardian
Suncorp has joined forces with the Queensland Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) in a bid to tackle the growing problem of financial and elder abuse. Suncorp has hosted a range of industry forums to highlight the important role banks play in identifying and reporting suspicions of abuse, resulting in a significant uplift in the cases being referred to the OPG.
The OPG exists to protect the rights, interests and wellbeing of adults with impaired decision-making capacity, and can investigate allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation made by anybody within the community.
Queensland’s Public Guardian, Natalie Siegel-Brown, said in her experience banks were often the first to identify whether abuse or exploitation was going on, usually picked up by staff who witness something that doesn’t look or feel right.
“Banks are critical because often other people in a victim’s life have been excluded so the perpetrator can access their account. Sometimes when we pull back the veil on financial abuse, we also find physical abuse and neglect,” Ms Siegel-Brown said.
“Banks are often the first to identify whether abuse or exploitation is going on.”Natalie Siegel-Brown Queensland’s Public Guardian
“Financial abuse is very closely linked to elder abuse, with roughly 80 per cent of the cases we open relating to people over the age of 65. Sadly, it’s often the adult son or daughter of the victim inflicting the abuse.”
Suncorp Group Customer Advocate, Matthew Leslie, said Suncorp was working proactively with its employees, the OPG and the industry to address the issue.
“We are ensuring our customer-facing teams undertake training to understand financial abuse and spot the signs of customers who may be vulnerable,” said Matthew.
“We’ve also developed internal reporting measures that alert us to suspicious behaviour or transactions, and proactively refer these to the OPG to investigate.”