Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service (WDVCS) is calling on the Federal Government to continue its funding of financial counsellors as part of an integrated response to tackling domestic violence.
WDVCS CEO Annette Gillespie said many clients had experienced economic abuse alongside other abusive tactics including intimidation, threats to kill, emotional abuse and coercive control.
“Economic abuse is a form of domestic violence that ultimately aims to deprive a person of their independence,” Ms Gillespie said.
“Clients have been prevented from accessing their own bank accounts, their personal property has been secretly pawned off, and some women have even had their work clothes destroyed making it more difficult for them to earn an income.”
Ms Gillespie said economic abuse was extremely dangerous because financial independence was a critical factor in a woman’s ability to escape an abusive relationship.
“When a woman has been isolated by her abuser so she has no friends or family to help her, and she has no access to money it is very difficult for her to leave the relationship let alone find secure housing.”
Ms Gillespie called for funding to provide in-house financial counsellors for domestic violence services.
“We urgently need specially-trained financial counsellors to work in the domestic violence sector. They need to understand the unique dynamics of abusive relationships so they can best meet the needs of clients.
“With federal funding for community-based financial counsellors still up-in-the-air it is crucial that Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews sits down with services to deal with the issue.”
If you or someone you care about is living with an abusive partner or family member call the Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service’s 24-hour crisis line on 1800 015 188.
WDVCS CEO Annette Gillespie is available for interview.
Interviews with a woman who has experienced financial abuse can also be arranged.
Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service
GPO Box 4396, Melbourne Victoria 3001