If you are experiencing family and domestic violence, you may be experiencing financial abuse. Financial Abuse can include the exercise of control over your money or ability to work, refusing to work or contribute to household expenses, forging your signature, selling your assets without your permission and/ or forcing changes to power of attorney or wills.
Whether you are planning to leave or choose to stay in your home, it is important to understand your personal finances and seek financial advice if you need it, so that you are aware of your options. This might include:
- Financial assistance
Understanding what financial assistance you might be entitled to, including various payments from Centrelink, help with energy bills, child care assistance, or crisis care payments. You must be registered with Centrelink to receive support payments.
- Registering your own MyGov account
MyGov allows you to access government services online such as Medicare, Centrelink, Australian Taxation Office, Child Support, Department of Health Applications Portal, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, My Aged Care, My Health Record, National Disability Insurance Scheme and the National Redress Scheme.
Identifying individual and joint bank accounts and credit cards held, including obtaining recent statements, bank account numbers, balances and relevant logins and passwords, and understanding the requirements to set up your own bank account if required. Many banks also offer additional assistance and options to people facing domestic and family violence, which can be found on their website or by calling them.
Identifying personal, car and home loans that you may hold personally or jointly, including obtaining recent statements and relevant account numbers, balances, logins and passwords. If you own property, you may want to speak with your bank or a mortgage broker to obtain advice about your loan options.
- Planning your finances
Developing and implementing a budget and financial plan to help manage your finances, and identify how you may be able to become more financially independent.
Where can I get help?
In Western Australia, there is a variety of services that can provide you with financial advice and support, and we’ve listed a few of them below:
On behalf of Services Australia, Centrelink delivers government payments and services that support people affected by family and domestic violence. Payments include:
- Income Support Payment: An income support payment is a regular payment that helps with living costs
- Crisis Payment: A one off payment if you have experienced an extreme circumstance and are in severe financial hardship
- Advance Payment: An advance payment gives you access to part of your income support payment or family tax benefit (part A) early.
Centrelink also provides social work services. They offer free, private counselling and support and can referral to other services that may help such as family and domestic violence services and financial help.
Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide free and independent information, advice and advocacy to those who are facing financial difficulty. You can find financial counsellors in community organisations and local government agencies.
Financial counsellors can help you:
- To understand your debts and which ones are priorities
- How to develop budgets and money plans
- To understand the pros and cons of different options to manage financial issues
- Access support payments
- Negotiate with your creditors
- Understand your rights and refer you to legal help
Use our online directory to find a local financial counsellor.
Private Financial Advisors
Financial advisors are generally private firms that can provide you with advice about your financial planning, from budgeting and saving for retirement to planning to become financially independent.
Your Toolkit is a free comprehensive online financial toolkit that is designed to help women facing domestic and family violence and financial abuse on their journey to more independent, confident and safe lives. Their website includes information on:
- Centrelink and myGov account and support payments
- Tools for managing your own finances (including budgeting and saving)
- Financial assistance for living costs
- Understanding financial areas such tax, superannuation, credit and insurance
MoneySmart provides free online advice that can help you with managing money, reducing debt, financial planning, growing wealth and tools and resources to help.
Rural Financial Counselling Service
Rural Financial Counselling Service can help you develop and implement plans to improve your financial situation. This service does not give family, emotional or social counselling or advice but can refer you to professional services including: accountants, agricultural advisors, education, or mental health services. You and your family may also be eligible for a Farm Household Allowance.
National Debt Hotline
Financial counsellors at The National Debt Hotline can offer free, confidential, and independent advice by:
- Doing a full assessment of your financial situation – including regular income and expenditure, assets and liabilities – to help you fully understand your position
- Providing advice on how to negotiate with your creditors, government agencies or other business providers
- Negotiating directly with your creditors in certain circumstances
- Providing advice about what options, rights and responsibilities you may have
- Referring you to other services you may need, such as legal services, crisis food and accommodation services, and health services
No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS)
The No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) provides individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable credit. A no interest loan lets you borrow up to $1,500 to pay for essentials. Repayments are affordable and the loan term is between 12 and 18 months. There are no credit checks.
You can use a no interest loan to pay for:
- Household items, like a fridge, washing machine, computer or furniture
- Educational materials, like a tablet or textbooks
- Some medical and dental services
- Car repairs and tyres
Visit the NILS website for more information.
StepUp is a low interest loan for people on low incomes who have difficulty accessing credit from a bank. You can borrow from $800 – $3,000 with up to three years to pay it back. There are no fees. Visit the StepUp Loans website for more information.