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Over 623,000 Australians suffering from financial abuse: CBA

A new report has suggested that more than 623,000 Australians are considered to be victims of financial abuse, costing both recipients and the country almost $11 billion.

The research, which was conducted by Deloitte Access Economics and commissioned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), found that during 2020, 623,100 men and women were subjected to financial abuse. 

One in every 30 Australian women and one in every 50 men suffered under financial abuse, a form of domestic family violence where an abuser will control, exploit or sabotage their partner’s ability to acquire, use and maintain financial resources.

According to the report, financial abuse cost victims around $5.7 billion during 2020, with the most common acts being the withholding or controlling of a victim’s finances as well as a refusal to contribute to expenses. 

Further, financial abuse was also said to cost the wider Australian economy roughly $5.2 billion that same year through its impact on productivity and mental health as well as deadweight losses. 

Data published by Bankwest late last year suggested a similar prevalence of financial abuse, with the data stating that almost one-third of West Australian residents had experienced financial abuse, and that one in four knew someone personally impacted. 

The non-major bank’s findings also stated that 12 per cent of the state’s residents had engaged in financial abuse themselves. 

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Wing Hsieh, Deloitte Access Economics associate director, and co-author of the CBA report, commented that financial abuse can take various forms and that its impacts need to be better understood.

“Our analysis has revealed some startling numbers in terms of both direct and indirect costs. We hope it will help further inform Australia’s understanding of this insidious challenge,” he said.

In response to these latest findings, CBA has confirmed it will be inviting up to 5 million of its customers to support the CommBank Next Chapter, a support initiative launched in 2020 by the big four bank in response to financial abuse.

Speaking on the campaign, CBA chief executive Matt Comyn said that he believes it will “take a community effort to address this hidden epidemic”. 

“We want to help create a brighter future for all Australians, a future free of financial abuse,” Mr Comyn said.

[Related: One-third of Western Australians exposed to financial abuse]

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