Wednesday 07 Nov 2018

Elder abuse prevention and financial counselling

By: Bernadette Pasco

In 2015-17, FCRC was successful in obtaining funding from the Lord Mayor’s charitable foundation which enabled financial counselling to get into discussions specific to advocacy for our older and ageing population.

The Dignity and Debt project revealed and confirmed a number of clear factors that could improve outcomes for older Victorians. Some of the project recommendations are captured below;

  1. Review training/professional development of financial counsellors about changes to the aged care landscape including an understanding of the financial and legal regulatory framework and elder abuse prevention
  2. Consider expansion of the Aged Care and Assessment Service (ACAS) Income and Assets financial assessment to include a question/s on debt and options to access financial counselling assessment
  3. Integrate financial counselling into the aged care space; in communities, health services and residential aged care
  4. Develop further community and health / aged care service provider awareness of financial counselling
  5. Consider scope for compulsory training/professional development of health workforces including GPs of referral pathways to financial counselling
  6. Review the physical location of financial counsellors to ensure financial counselling is inclusive of outreach home-visits, or coupled with ACAS, to support the Older Person population group – link to community health services and hospital ‘in-reach’ programs
  7. Promotion of the health benefits of financial counselling / financial wellbeing
  8. Consider further initiatives centred on the holistic approach of financial counselling and its ability to address wellbeing of Older Persons, support consumer empowerment and positive aging
  9. Support ongoing development of financial counsellor links to statutory and non-statutory Older Person population group supports in community
  10. Consider development of a brokerage/financial counselling intermediary services for the long-term management of CDC homecare packages for Older Persons who have reduced capacity to navigate online platforms
  11. Consider provision of advice to government agencies on reviewing ACAS assessments in more timely and thorough manner to reduce delays and impacts on Older Persons
  12. Review financial counselling referral intake system to ascertain whether there is a need for referrals to be made to financial counsellors with specific aged care knowledge
  13. Consider establishment of a framework for long-term debt reviews/check-ups of Older Persons – either through self-reporting or financial counsellor check-ups every 6 to 12months (for avoidance/prevention of return to debt)
  14. Request inclusion of a ‘financial counselling blurb and referral contact’ on front page of MoneySmart Aged Care Over 55s page – within ‘Where to Start’ section rather than having link to financial counselling hidden in the side column:
  15. Increase promotion of financial counselling information and education websites DebtSelfHelp and MoneySmart with focus on supports/information they offer to Older Persons and increase information about hardship and relevance to the Aged Care Act 1997[1]

The outcomes of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and the ensuing Andrews’ Government 10 year Family Violence Strategy resulted, for the first time ever, in the recognition that elder abuse is a form of family violence and should be identified as such; giving us an incredible opportunity to continue this work in a more visible way.

In May 2018, FCRC was funded for a 12 month project by DHHS Seniors and Participation branch, Victoria to continue this work, and support the development of the Integrated Model.

The Integrated model developed by DHHS alongside some of the reshaping of the Aged Care Assessment Services [ACAS] enables financial counsellors to be employed in settings that include integrated services such as counselling and mediation, with a number of key agencies taking up an open tender challenge.

Better Places Australia (formerly FMC), Lentara Uniting Care and Anglicare have partnered with health providers such as St Vincent’s Hospital, Western Health and CoHealth to give a clear opportunity to link elder abuse prevention to health outcomes through financial counselling intervention and support.

Since July 2018, FCRC has:

  1. Commenced the project
  2. Employed a project lead
  3. Consulted and set up a reference group
  4. Met with many key stakeholders
  5. Fed into the MARAM consultation to include elder abuse
  6. Worked with key providers to develop service delivery models that expose the benefit of financial counselling.
  7. Participated in a national working group to review the Centrelink Income and Assets forms required to enter residential aged care or access home care packages

This opportunity will allow the financial counselling sector to become visible in the health and aged care space, and integrate with family violence approaches to casework.

The next steps are to consult with the financial counselling workforce to identify any other key knowledge gaps that you feel should be addressed, ensuring that any training we produce meets the mark for financial counsellors.

If you would like to discuss any aspects of working with older consumers, including those in retirement villages, those in receipt of Commonwealth home support; Home care packaged and residential aged care, please contact Bernadette Pasco by email ( or by phone 0467 670 078.

[1] The full Dignity and Debt evaluation report can be read here: