NFP Sector Unclear on ‘Economic Abuse’
18 June 2013 at 12:33 pm
A ground breaking Not for Profit report claims there is a lack of knowledge within the sector and among victims about the problem of economic abuse particularly aimed at women.
Spotlight on Economic Abuse is a joint initiative of Good Shepherd Youth & Family
Service and Kildonan UnitingCare – organisations that frequently work with people who
are being financially controlled by their current or former partner.
The report says that despite the frequency with which organisations witness this phenomenon, there is a lack of knowledge within the sector and among victims about the problem of economic abuse.
“Too often, victims, perpetrators and those who work with them do not understand the extent of the damage that economic abuse causes or even that it is a form of violence,” the report said.
“And too often, victims of economic abuse miss out on legal and financial remedies for the abuse they have suffered.
“What we do know about economic abuse is that it is a form of family violence that can cause severe material deprivation for women and can prevent them from becoming economically secure and independent (Macdonald 2012(h)).
The report describes economic abuse as behaviour that controls “a woman’s ability to acquire, use, and maintain economic resources, thus threatening her economic security and potential for self-sufficiency”.
The report said women with disabilities and older women can be particular targets for economic abuse.
The report puts economic abuse under a number of categories including:
- control over day-to-day household finances and material wellbeing
- denying accumulation of personal assets or eroding those assets
- manipulating credit and debt to the abused partner’s disadvantage
- refusing to contribute to household finances
“For too many years community agencies have witnessed the impacts of economic abuse, with many women having to choose between violence and poverty,” Kildonan UnitingCare Advocacy Services Senior Manager Sue Fraser said.
“This work has shown the importance of naming economic abuse so that as a community we can start to identify it and address it– whether we are social workers, credit companies or even family and friends”.
Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service and Kildonan UnitingCare report recommends a nationally coordinated, cross-sectoral approach be taken to understanding, addressing and preventing economic abuse.
As well a national conference on economic abuse should be conducted to enable the key sectors to deepen their understanding and develop a dialogue about this issue.
The report recommends specific training and awareness-raising be undertaken within the relevant professional sectors, including the corporate, legal, community and government sectors.
As well it recommends that emergency relief and flexible brokerage money be made available to victims of economic abuse on a more long-term basis.
The full report can be found here.