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CBA issues paper on tackling financial abuse

A new research paper has highlighted how financial institutions can provide better support for people impacted by economic and financial abuse through intimate partner relationships.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), in partnership with the University of New South Wales’ Gendered Violence Research Network, has released the paper to shed light on the prevalence, definition and impact of economic and financial abuse.

To help financial institutions better address the issue, the first paper (in a six-part series), titled Understanding Economic and Financial Abuse in Intimate Partner Relationships, has set out the key areas for consideration when analysing customer support measures.

These include:

  • Examining how victims and survivors of economic and financial abuse may benefit from tailored financial products;
  • Establishing a specialist Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) team to assess the potential for products and procedures to be misused by perpetrators to coercively control and abuse their partner;
  • Providing specialist DFV teams with training that enable them to identify the links between economic and financial abuse and other forms of intimate partner violence, as well as the economic and financial abuse tactics that can be employed at the end of relationships; and
  • Financial institutions could provide content through youth education program to further develop and support financial capability and financial management.

Commenting on the research paper, CBA group executive, Sian Lewis said: “Financial abuse is a hidden epidemic affecting thousands of Australians who are experiencing domestic violence.

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“Yet, there is limited academic evidence on the issue, making it difficult to develop and deliver effective support for people impacted. The purpose of this research series is to improve our understanding of the issue so we as a bank and as a society can improve our responses and our support.”

Furthermore, the paper revealed a lack of consistency in the definition of financial and economic abuse, which it said are often used interchangeably. This has posed challenges for service and policymakers to effectively measure and deal appropriately with the different but connected issues.

The paper therefore expanded the number of categories that comprise economic and financial abuse to include “economic and financial manipulation” and “economic and financial entanglement”, in addition to the traditional categories of “economic and financial control”, “economic and financial exploitation” and “economic sabotage”.

Commenting on the research, the paper’s author and professor and co-conveyor UNSW Gendered Violence Research Network, Jan Breckenridge, said: “Our research distinguishes financial abuse as relating specifically to money and finances.

“Whereas economic abuse – while involving similar patterns of abuse – refers more broadly to the impact to resources, such as transportation, a place to live, employment and education more broadly. Without a clear and consistent definition, we can’t accurately measure economic and financial abuse, nor can we accurately create the right services and systems needed to support those impacted.”

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Ms Lewis said: “It was pleasing to see that many of the areas of focus already align with the work CBA has undertaken through our Next Chapter program. As we continue to evolve and improve our services and support for people impacted by economic and financial abuse, this paper will serve as a valuable source of information.”

[Related: CBA rolls out financial abuse support program]

CBA issues paper on tackling financial abuse
CBA issues paper on tackling financial abuse
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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur is the features editor on the mortgages titles at Momentum Media.

Before joining the team in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media. She has been writing about financial services for the past six years.

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