Shining a light on a hidden form of family violence

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An event focussing on the community-wide benefits of building women’s financial resilience has shone the light on the issue of financial abuse in the Albury-Wodonga region today.

Dr Christine Nixon, Chair of Australia’s leading financial inclusion organisation, said that financial abuse was a hidden form of family violence that has a negative impact on a woman’s financial wellbeing.

“Women can face additional barriers to achieving financial resilience including issues such as family violence and more specifically financial abuse. Sadly, two million women in Australia experience sustained, long-term financial abuse that has a negative impact on their financial situation or undermines their efforts to become economically independent,” said Ms Nixon.

Susie Geering, Microfinance Worker, and her colleagues at the Albury Women’s Centre for Health and Wellbeing, regularly see women who have experienced financial abuse.

“It can come in many forms but in general it includes behaviours that limit the woman’s access to family finances or the hiding of information about debt or even assets purchased in their name.”

“There have been situations where the woman has to account for every cent she spends to run the household, including family groceries.  Usually having no access to bank accounts and therefore needs to rely 100 per cent on her partner,” said Ms Geering.

Financial resilience enables individuals and families to recover from a setback such as the loss of a key asset like a car, changing employment circumstances or the financial impact of a natural disaster.

“There are four factors that work together to build financial resilience. They are income, appropriate financial products and services, financial literacy and an individual’s support networks,” said Ms Nixon.

“Financially resilient women have financially resilient families and that’s good for everyone,” she said.

Ms Nixon, believes that microfinance products like Good Shepherd Microfinance’s No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) are one important part of a much larger approach to building women’s financial resilience. NILS is one of the key programs offered by the Women’s Centre for Health & Wellbeing Albury-Wodonga.

“No interest loans give people who have experienced a financial shock – such as women escaping an abusive relationship, the opportunity to access safe and affordable credit for essential items.”

Independent Federal Member for Indi, Ms Cathy McGowan, echoed the importance of strengthening women’s financial resilience from a local perspective.

“People in rural communities face additional barriers to financial resilience due to geographic isolation, unique environmental pressures, and less access to support services. They must contend with less public transport, poor mobile phone coverage, and lack of NBN coverage,” said Ms McGowan.

“This is more reason to work together to create products, services and policies that support women to be financially resilient. In turn we build a more financially prosperous and resilient community,” she said.

END

Media contact: Claire Sturrock, Good Shepherd Microfinance: CSturrock@gsmicrofinance.org.au or 0459 350645

Good Shepherd Microfinance

Good Shepherd Microfinance is a world leader in financial inclusion products, services and advisory. We offer a range of people-centred, affordable financial programs for people on low incomes, working with 250 community providers in 670 locations across Australia.

Good Shepherd Microfinance is committed to working with the community, government and business sectors to develop innovative solutions to address the issues of financial exclusion.

Good Shepherd Microfinance’s No Interest Loan Scheme, offers people on low incomes safe, fair and affordable loans for fridges, washing machines and furniture, as well as education and medical expenses.

Women’s Centre for Health & Wellbeing Albury-Wodonga

Women’s Centre for Health & Wellbeing Albury-Wodonga works with women who have experienced different forms of abuse, including financial abuse. The Women’s Centre provides education and support to women, and helps women understand that financial abuse is not OK.

The Women’s Centre can provide no interest loans through the No Interest Loan Scheme. Their NILS program is a specialised family/domestic violence program which supports women who are and have experienced family/domestic violence, by providing them with flexible and affordable credit for the purchase of essential new household or personal items.

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