My Son Experienced Financial Abuse...TWICE
My son David is 18 years old and has a mild intellectual impairment.
Through NDIS funding, my son has been living in various SIL (supported independent living) arrangements for the past 5 months. This has been a challenging experience for David, as he can't read or write very well and is left alone for long periods of time, either by himself or with his co-tenants and has a constant flow of different support workers that come in and out of his life.
Unfortunately, David has had 2 support workers who took financial advantage of him, which is despicable. This has infuriated me, but I have nonetheless felt helpless to stop it.
Here's what happened;
The first incident happened when David hurt himself whilst learning to surf. David had been gifted a few hundred dollars in cash for his 18th birthday which he kept hidden in a tin under his bed. He was saving for his first tattoo and was so excited that he told everyone about the money, including the support workers. After he hurt himself the support worker took him back to the house, where he witnessed the support worker take a $50 note out of his tin.
David was visibly upset and confronted the support worker about taking money from the tin without his permission, the worker said he needed the money to purchase bandages and other medical supplies for his leg. Of course this wasn't true, David was furious and realised that this wasn't the first time money had been taken from his savings tin.
The second incident was a lot more serious. David had recently bought a very expensive scooter in which he liked to brag about it and how much it cost. Unfortunately, one of his support workers, a woman whom he trusted, told David that she would give him $1000 in cash if he sold the scooter to her, which was severely undervalued for what he paid.
The support worker then convinced him to go to the shop and purchase a better quality and more expensive scooter for $2000, which David would keep. David willingly listened and did this and she took his other scooter home, saying that she would pay him the cash she owed over a period of time. David was angry and upset because he thought he was getting $1000 in cash straight away and had just spent another $2000. The support worker was overheard talking to David about the incident that had just occurred and was fired on the spot for her despicable actions.
"As a parent, this left me feeling that my son was not safe - that at any moment he could be taken advantage of and that there is nothing I can do as his Mother to protect him from financial abuse."
For David, this was such an incredible breach of trust. He was very angry at the time and whenever he came to visit, he brought all of his valuables with him, for fear that they would have been stolen if he left them at his house. He now locks his bedroom door and is very apprehensive of support workers.
As a parent there wasn't much I felt
I could do to prevent this from happening again, but I kept in contact with his care team to ensure that moving forward he would be placed with a different organisation that would monitor their staff a lot more closely. Since David has moved, there haven't been any more incidents.
I had been looking around for a service to support my sons (3 of them have intellectual impairments) to protect them. I never wanted something like this to happen ever again. I was scrolling through Facebook and came across something called SpendAble and the SpendAble card.
This really intrigued me, because this card had features that could protect my son without limiting his freedoms. It gives my son the ability to have a card for each support worker if they need to make a payment on his behalf. That way David's money can only be accessed via the SpendAble card and, as each card can be linked to a worker or workers, any purchase made on the card is linked back to them along with all the evidence and receipts.
It even has a feature where there is no money available on the card until it's loaded onto the card via the app - which means that if someone took David's SpendAble card or he lost it somewhere, his money can't be stolen.
It also gives David and myself some peace of mind that his money is secured and helps him to increase his financial literacy whilst spending his money in a fun and supported way.
As a parent of a young adult who has been financially taken advantage of, I would recommend SpendAble to any parent or guardian that is concerned about their child. Don't delay making this important decision, visit their website and test out their cards with the free 30 day trial.