Disclaimer: This article mentions domestic and family violence, coercive control, and economic abuse. The following article is brought to you in part by Parker Coles Curtis lawyers and does not constitute legal advice.
Australia’s inaugural Economic Abuse Awareness Day will take place on the 26th of November, 2021; the day after the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls and within the 16 days of Activism Against Gender based Violence.
Economic Abuse Awareness Day began in Canada in 2019 when the Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE) called for greater recognition of the issue, and was successful in getting the issue put on the political agenda. In 2021, Australia will join the campaign along with CCFWE, Surviving Economic Abuse (UK) and Good Shepherd (NZ) to mobilise resources nationally and internationally in recognition of economic abuse.
Knowing what economic abuse is and being able to name it can support survivors to find help, assist organisations to respond appropriately, and reduce the ability of perpetrators to conceal their abuse.
Economic abuse is a type of family violence
During lockdown many of us indulged in a bit of binge tv watching. Maid, a Netflix series, was particularly popular viewing. The story details a young woman’s escape from a violent relationship and her struggles and triumphs in starting the next chapter of her life.
Unfortunately, while many of us were bingeing Netflix from the comfort of our couches and enjoying the lack of commute to the office everyday, many others were experiencing an escalation in aggressive, controlling, violent and abusive behaviour towards them.
Maid highlights that domestic violence or “family violence”, as it is known in the ACT, can take many forms. It is not always physical, it is not always yelling and screaming, it is not always controlling, but the effects are still the same and it is never, ever ok. As was highlighted in the show, sometimes people do not even know they are experiencing family violence. They believe that the behaviour they are experiencing is a once off or they attempt to justify the circumstances in an effort to validate the behaviour. People want to believe the best of their spouse after all.
“sometimes people do not even know they are experiencing family violence”
There are a number of forms of family violence, they include but are not limited to:
- physical violence or abuse;
- sexual violence or abuse;
- emotional or psychological abuse;
- economic abuse;
- threatening behaviour;
- coercion or any other behaviour that controls or dominates and causes someone to feel fear for their safety or wellbeing;
- behaviour that exposes a child to hear or witness family violence.
None of this behaviour is ok and you do not have to suffer from it. No one should feel trapped or unsafe in their own home or in their relationships.
Helpful Canberra-based Resources
There are a number of supports and systems in place in the ACT for people experiencing family violence. They include the Domestic Violence Crisis Service who offer a 24-hour crisis assistance helpline which can assist you to create an exit plan and support you with counselling and other services.
People experiencing family violence also have the ability to make an application to the Magistrates Court of the ACT for an interim Family Violence Order which may include an order that your former partner cannot contact you or come within a certain distance of you. In circumstances where you live with your spouse or partner, they can even be removed from your residence and forced to find other arrangements for accommodation. These Court orders provide people with immediate protection and carry criminal consequences if breached.
The Commonwealth Government are also currently trialing a cash up front payment system to assist people to get much needed funds to help them find safe and secure accommodation. The Escaping Violence Payment – Domestic Violence Payment Scheme, provides an initial payment of $1,500 in cash. If eligible, the remainder of grant a further amount of $3,500 is provided in goods and services, via the direct payments of bonds, school fees or other necessary support. Payments are not considered to be a declarable or taxable income.
Eligibility is based on financial stress and evidence of domestic violence, including but not limited to a referral from a domestic violence service provider with a risk assessment and safety plan, a Family Violence Order, Court Order or Police report. Delivery of payments is made via Uniting Care Australia Consortium.
Parker Coles Curtis lawyers are here to help when times are hard. We understand that family law matters, particularly those involving family violence are some of the most difficult and hard times people will ever face. It is our goal to assist to reduce that stress and help you. We can assist with obtaining a family violence order in the Magistrates Court of the ACT and help to settle issues of time with children and financial matters. Our team of experts provide a safe and secure settling for discussing your concerns and can assist to draft applications and attend court with you.
A few quick links:
Parker Coles Curtis Lawyer: Family Lawyers & Family Law | Parker Coles Curtis
DVCS Canberra: Home – DVCS | Domestic Violence Crisis Service in Canberra
Escaping Violence Payment – Domestic Violence Payment Scheme: https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/new-5000-payment-for-women-fleeing-domestic-violence/
https://unitingcare.org.au/about-us/ To make an escaping violence payment enquiry see: https://www.unitingvictas.org.au/services/family-services/family-violence-services/escaping-violence-payment/