ABC launches financial abuse support program
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has launched Next Chapter, a new program that aims to support those affected by financial abuse due to domestic and family violence.
The Next Chapter program would involve actions in three key areas: providing care to vulnerable clients, expanding support for long-term recovery, and helping to raise awareness and scale up actions in response to the problem.
The bank launched two new services as part of the program designed to empower victims and survivors of financial abuse to achieve long-term financial independence.
The two new services include a Financial Independence Center in partnership with Good Shepherd, a provider of financial inclusion products and services, as well as a CBA community wellness team.
The Financial Independence Center will offer a tailored financial coaching program by Good Shepherd to help those affected by domestic and financial abuse build a path to long-term financial recovery, and is available to everyone, including those who do not bank with CBA.
The program provides specialized and individual financial support to those affected, with referrals to support services and, in some cases, access to solutions such as interest-free loans.
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand CEO Stella Avramopoulos said the hub was created in close consultation with people who have experienced financial abuse and with the support of a benchmark group of industry leaders and experts. academics.
“We know that financial abuse is widespread and can be devastating. Our [frontline] staff see the impact of financial abuse [everyday],” Mrs Avramopoulos mentionned.
“We see people, mostly women, with histories of bad credit or huge debt imposed on them by abusive and controlling partners and often without access to their own money who don’t know how they are going to feed their children.
“We know that inclusion and financial capability can be the key to changing a life. “
CBA has also launched a dedicated community welfare team that can provide confidential assistance to help clients meet their immediate banking needs, including direct financial assistance, secure banking assistance, and referrals to external experts. if necessary.
The team has developed ‘trauma-informed’ approaches, according to the ABC, and can provide support to vulnerable clients, with guidance from Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia.
Commenting on the launch of the program, CBA CEO Matt Comyn said, “Financial abuse is one of the most powerful ways to keep a person trapped in a situation of domestic and family violence, causing victims and to the survivors severe financial stress both during the situation and for some. time after their departure.
“This is a hidden epidemic in our country, which has directly affected one in four Australian adults, and we want to change that,” he said.
Mr. Comyn added that the community wellness team expects to support 125,000 vulnerable clients over the next five years.
“We want to make it easier for victims and survivors to break free from the financial shackles of their abusers and get the help they need to start the next chapter in their lives and achieve long-term financial independence,” said he declared.
The CBA move follows its announcement in June that it would tackle technology-facilitated abuse, after discovering that customers were sending potentially abusive messages in descriptions of banking operations.
Majority think financial abuse is rampant
The launch of the ABC’s program to combat financial abuse coincided with the publication of research, which found that 26 percent of the adult population has been the victim of financial abuse while 12 percent know someone. one who fell victim to it.
The new community attitudes survey of over 10,000 Australians on financial abuse commissioned by ABC and conducted by YouGov in June 2020 also found that four in five Australians agree financial abuse is a problem widespread, while 79% said they could not recall any support offered to those experiencing financial abuse.
Another 63 percent think their bank should take the lead in solving the problem.
Among those who have been the victims of financial abuse, the most common behaviors include having an abuser using all of his partner’s salary for household expenses, with the abuser spending his own money only on himself (61 %), hiding property (56% percent), taking full control of their partner’s finances (55 percent), and refusing to contribute financially to their household (55 percent).
Almost one in 10 or 9 per cent Australians admit to having been a perpetrator. That’s the equivalent of 1.8 million people.
The majority of respondents, 93%, believe that there are barriers to seeking support. Of those who were victims of financial abuse, only 54 percent sought help.
According to the ABC, this indicates a “serious lack of understanding of financial abuse” in relation to physical and verbal abuse, which are more well-known and well-documented forms of violence.
If you are suffering from abuse, depression, or suicidal thoughts, or if you are worried about someone else and feel urgent professional support is needed, contact your local doctor or one of the crisis agencies listed. below:
1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
Safety rope: 13 11 14
Suicide callback service: 1300 659 467
beyond blue: 1300 22 4636
[Related: ABA calls for action on financial abuse]
Malavika Santhebennur is the Mortgage Securities Editor at Momentum Media.
Prior to joining the team in 2019, Malavika held positions at Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for six years.