The majority of women experiencing intimate partner violence in Australia are experiencing economic abuse as part of the broader pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour. This has immediate and long-term impacts on safety and wellbeing.
My Churchill Fellowship, conducted using virtual 'travel', investigated the ways services in the UK, USA and Canada are responding to women experiencing domestic economic abuse and to identify opportunities for Australia to improve its responses to economic abuse.
Overwhelmingly, the people I spoke with recognised that the best response to women experiencing or escaping economic abuse, would be a more equitable society: One that increased women’s economic safety and reduced the burden on services. However, there was broad acknowledgment we cannot wait for this shift and ignore the very significant needs women have right now. Nor should we focus all our energy supporting women and ignore the broader structural and system barriers to economic justice. As a result, it was commonplace to see organisations working towards both goals in parallel.
Organisations I engaged with for my Fellowship that had the most promising practices had three things in common. They were all:
Key activities of organisations included lobbying governments for better recognition of economic abuse, working with a range of organisations to build understanding and awareness of economic abuse and improve responses, research into economic abuse, and supporting victim-survivors with cash, information, and advocacy.
My report makes 14 recommendations for Australia across two broad categories:
‘Improving systems’ takes in systems change advocacy and research to support steps towards a more equitable society. ‘Improving responses’ takes in approaches, models and programs that respond to women directly (direct responses), and that build the capacity of others to respond and improves understanding and awareness (capacity building).
There is an enormous opportunity for Australia to significantly improve its responses to women experiencing economic abuse in the intimate partner context. This report will help guide the work of my not-for-profit organisation, the Centre for Women's Economic Safety.
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