The prevalence of financial abuse continues to worsen despite growing awareness of the issue according to the latest CommBank Community Awareness Survey.
The alarming survey results underscore the urgency of tackling financial abuse across the nation.
Younger generations, especially Gen Z and Millennial's, are disproportionately affected, with 32 and 29 per cent respectively, stating they are currently experiencing financial abuse.
Furthermore, First Nations individuals are four times more likely to experience financial abuse from family members than others, while those with disabilities are more than twice as likely to experience it from partners.
In response to this alarming trend, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) chief executive officer Matt Comyn unveiled the Next Chapter Innovation program at the CommBank Financial Abuse Leadership Summit.
Next Chapter Innovation is an initiative that aims to address financial abuse and support victim-survivors in their long-term recovery.
The program will see CBA collaborate with not-for-profit and social enterprise organisations, focusing on the most vulnerable communities, including First Nations and culturally diverse groups, young people, people with disabilities, older individuals, and LGBTQI+ communities.
At the Summit, leaders from various sectors, including business, government, and the domestic and family violence (DFV) sector, came together to identify opportunities to work collectively in preventing and responding to financial abuse.
Mr Comyn emphasised the importance of empowering victim-survivors and reclaiming their financial independence.
"We hope Next Chapter Innovation will elevate our existing work with a range of DFV sector partners committed to helping eliminate financial abuse - a job where there is clearly more to be done," he said.
Financial abuse, a form of controlling behaviour, is identified in The National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 as a key focus area in addressing gender-based violence in Australia.
Perpetrators use financial control to gain power and control within a relationship, leading to devastating consequences for the victims.
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The Domestic, Family, and Sexual Violence Commissioner, Micaela Cronin, commended CBA's proactive approach in identifying opportunities for action against financial abuse. She expressed optimism that a collaborative effort involving all segments of society can lead to a future free from gender-based violence.
"We can achieve the shared vision of ending gender-based violence in one generation, if all parts of society work together," she said.
Assistant Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Justine Elliot, praised Commonwealth Bank's support for the national plan and the critical role the industry plays in addressing financial abuse.
"Our government is committed to working with the entire sector to end the unacceptably high rates of financial abuse and to support victim-survivors to recover and rebuild," she said.
Director of Lived Expertise and Advocacy at the Women's Trauma Recovery Centre and Co-founder of the Independent Collective of Survivors, Lula Dembele, said there was a need for a community-wide response to address financial abuse.
The Next Chapter Innovation program is now open for applications from Australian-based organisations providing direct funding to programs supporting victim-survivors. Eligible organisations will have access to grants ranging from $50,000 to $200,000, executive support and mentoring, and involvement in an inaugural conference hosted by CommBank.
Anyone facing financial abuse due to domestic or family violence can seek support by contacting the Next Chapter Team at 1800 222 387, irrespective of their banking institution. For immediate assistance during emergencies, individuals can call 000.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au
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