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06 May 2011
The authors of a University of NSW research study came to see us the other day. They want to explore and help tackle the complex economic issues domestic violence creates for women and children who find themselves caught up in this intolerable situation. Their study has some recommendations for government and institutions to follow up on and our chat made good sense. After all, we have a Women’s Market team, the social networking Ruby site and then there is our recently launched education site, the Davidson Institute.
Domestic violence is expensive. In 2008-09 it cost the Australian economy, according to the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children’s figures, in the order of $13.6 billion.
Behind that number is a human cost: somewhere in the vicinity of 1.3 million women have stories of frightening abuse to tell, as well as of the struggle to free themselves and their children from the situations. And violence happens across all socio-economic barriers.
According to the “Seeking Security” study’s authors, Rochelle Braaf and Isobelle Barrett Meyering: Many of the women they spoke with had either benefited from or could see the benefit they would get from personal financial advice and assistance in the form of economic advocacy, financial literacy education and general financial advice.
“Financial circumstances play a significant role in women’s decisions to end an abusive relationship,” the report goes on to note.
The authors found some women leave because of the lack of financial security; and others stay (often for years) because they can see no way of surviving if they do leave. In either circumstance, the study highlighted the importance of financial and material support to enable safety, independence and recovery from the abuse. It’s findings and recommendations have wide reaching implications for all women, caught in a vulnerable domestic situation or not.
Westpac recently launched its new Davidson Institute site: a financial literacy and education site.
Free information, and financial education topics, as well as online workshops, are available to all. Built with the express purpose of building financial literacy skills and increasing confidence in understanding your finances and knowing where to go for further information, the Davidson Institute has the added benefit of being as anonymous as you want it to be. You can read and do – in your own time and at your own pace – as much as you want.
Certainly, from the Women’s Markets point of view the value for women in growing from ‘cautious to confidence’ through networking, skill building and knowledge gathering cannot be underestimated and initiatives such as this site and, of course, Ruby, will have immeasurable benefits in the wider community.