On Monday 31 August, the Queensland Government Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee tabled its final report entitled Inquiry into the adequacy of existing financial protections for Queensland’s seniors. This report was the culmination of their inquiry around four terms of reference which encompassed current levels of financial literacy; support services available for financial advice; the vulnerabilities of seniors to online frauds and scams; agencies and organisations that protect seniors; and the role of the financial sector in ensuring adequate safeguards.
Dr Cassandra Cross, from the QUT Crime and Justice Research Centre, put forward a written submission to this inquiry based on her many years of researching online fraud. She was also asked to give evidence at a public parliamentary hearing in July, to provide further details relating to the impact of fraud victimisation. The report handed down by the committee is a positive document which recognises the strength of her expertise in this area. It contains 43 distinct citations of her work throughout, and five of the 42 recommendations are directly related to evidence she provided to the committee. This includes a direction to frontline enforcement and financial sector staff to respond to fraud victims in a sensitive and empathetic manner; a call to establish a referral mechanism for support services and further resource victim support groups; and consideration of the ability for fraud victims to access non-financial assistance under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009.
“This is a very positive step in the right direction to improve the situation of all victims, but particularly seniors, who experience the devastating effects of online fraud” noted Dr Cross. “I am very pleased with the outcome of this inquiry. I implore the Palaszczuk government to acknowledge the issues presented in the report, particularly those relevant to fraud victims, through an acceptance of the recommendations. The government has the power to vastly improve the wellbeing and future recovery of older fraud victims and I hope that they will take action on this critical issue”.
A copy of the Inquiry’s full report can be accessed here.
A copy of Dr Cross’ written submission to the committee can be accessed here.