The significant impact of domestic violence on women's security and safety has been highlighted in a national report by UNSW researchers, launched by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick.
A new national report by UNSW researchers has highlighted the significant impact domestic violence has on women's financial security and safety.
Seeking Security: promoting women's economic wellbeing following domestic violence was launched by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, at UNSW this week.
Researchers, Dr Rochelle Braaf and Isobelle Barrett-Meyering, from UNSW's Australian Domestic & Family Violence Clearinghouse, interviewed victims of domestic violence and service providers for the report.
"This is the first Australian study to build a holistic picture of the impact of abusive
men's behaviour on women's financial security, both during the relationship and post-separation," said Dr Braaf.
An estimated 15-17 per cent of Australian women are affected by domestic violence over the course of their lifetime, with an economic cost of around $13.6 billion to the Australian community.
The key finding of this research is that financial issues impact on women's safety.
"Can she afford to leave, afford to change the locks, afford treatment for injuries? Many women are forced to leave their jobs, their homes and their support networks to flee violence. The worst case scenario is when women return to violent men because they can't survive financially on their own," Dr Braaf said.
Dr Braaf believes men need to be made more accountable for their abuse and it's impact on women's financial outcomes.
"They need to accountable for their share of debts, bills and child support payments and the criminal justice system needs to make them accountable for their abusive behaviour. We heard stories from many women about their ex-partners continuing to make vexatious court claims, costing women in lost work days, child care and legal costs - it's a way for men to maintain control," Dr Braaf said.
The report recommends that social security, legal systems, employers and financial institutions all be more responsive to women's financial needs.
"For example, victim compensation should offer financial relief but is chronically underused by women experiencing domestic violence. The report makes recommendations to improve access to this avenue of justice for women," said Barrett Meyering.
The report emphasises the importance of key services and employers developing strategies that promote women's economic empowerment by building their financial capacity and creating economic opportunities.
Women want economic empowerment, Dr Braaf said. "Women want to be financially independent and secure, they are desperate to recover from their experiences and they need support to do that."
If you or someone you know is in danger, call:
National Confidential Helpline: 1800 200 526
Men's helpline: 1300 78 99 78
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