Tuesday 03 May 2016
FCRC commends the Andrews Labor Government for recognising the current lack of support services for Victorians experiencing financial abuse – a sinister and manipulative form of family violence.
1.8 million in funding will go towards a new specialist financial counselling workforce, specialist training and advocacy with industry (such as banks, telcos, energy ). This will influence protocols to get better outcomes for victims of family violence and economic abuse..
“Financial insecurity is a frequently quoted reason for why women stay in, or return to, violent relationships. The Andrews Government announcement will help to break that cycle - empowering women to leave dangerous domestic situations and manage their long-term financial needs.” said Peter Gartlan, Executive Officer at FCRC
“While the community now recognises physical, sexual, psychological and emotional forms of abuse, less is understood about financial abuse. Financial abuse can have a devastating impact on personal safety, health, relationships and ability to cope with day-to-day life.”
Financial abuse is commonly used by abusers to gain power and control and entrap their partner (even after separation). It can take many forms – subtle
and overt – including:
• interfering with education and employment, e.g. forbidding the woman to work or sabotaging her employment opportunities
• denying access to money and bank accounts (even to buy basic needs)
• refusing to pay bills and loan repayments for which the person is jointly liable
• coercion to sign for credit/contracts where the woman receives no benefit
• pressure to put all household bills in the woman’s name and refusing to pay if she leaves
• the abuser continuing to incur debt for which the woman is liable after the relationship has ended
• refusal to complete tax returns – impacting on Centrelink entitlements.
• Coercion to sign as a company director for the perpetrator’s business with potential legal and financial liabilities
Financial abuse is costly to the community, and is not determined by socio economic status, often forcing an ongoing dependence on government income support payments (Centrelink) and chronic poverty. According to The economic cost of violence against women and their children report by the Australian Government’s Department of Social Services, violence against women and their children cost the Australian economy in the order of $13.6 billion in 2008/09.
Mr Gartlan said that FCRC is seeking to influence development and delivery of this ground breaking program, the first of its kind in Australia.
“FCRC is really pleased that the government listened to our submissions and accepted our proposal for funding of these initiatives. We have worked on this package for over a year with a range of organisations, including Women’s Legal Service Victoria, the financial counselling sector and industry. We look forward to working with the government on the design and implementation of these initiatives”
Each year, Victoria’s accredited financial counsellors assist approximately 34,000 clients (primarily through face-to-face consultations) and handle a further 20,000 calls through the national phone helpline. Being at the coalface, financial counsellors are ideally placed to identify financial abuse and provide support to victims
FCRC proposal to state government was to:
• establish a program involving employment of ten financial counsellors located within services where women seek assistance, e.g. legal services, health services and family violence protection services.
• build and deliver an education program for financial counsellors to receive specialist training about the intricacies of financial abuse.
• Establish best practice for financial counsellors working with victims
• develop family violence protocols within hardship programs offered by the banking, energy and telecommunications industries and relevant Victorian Government departments and agencies.”