Aston MHR Mary Doyle and Swan MHR Zaneta Mascarenhas.

Financial abuse motion put to federal Parliament

Anyone can become a victim of financial abuse, regardless of socio-economic status or gender.
February 22, 2024
Gera Kazakov

“CONTROLLING someone’s money, controlling someone’s access to the bank account, tracking someone’s spending, sending abusive or threatening messages via banking transactions, forging a signature, taking out a loan in some else’s name, stopping someone from working or forcing someone to work, refusing to contribute financially – these are all examples of financial abuse.

These are the words of Labor’s Swan MHR Zaneta Mascarenhas as she put forward a motion to federal Parliament to recognise financial abuse as a form of domestic and family violence on February 12.

“It’s a powerful, insidious and pervasive form of abuse, and that’s why I’m making an effort to bring this conversation to national attention,” she said.

The five-part motion also sought to condemn the abuse, acknowledge the reforms made by the financial sector to combat it, affirm that combative action requires a coordinated response, and commend the government for its commitment to combat financial abuse.

Ms Mascarenhas said anyone can become a victim of financial abuse, regardless of socio-economic status or gender.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in 2021 that an estimated 1.6 million women and 745,000 men have experienced partner financial abuse,” she said.

“Bankwest reports one-third of Western Australians have experienced or know someone who has experienced financial abuse; four in five agree that it is a widespread problem and one in seven admit to having been perpetrators of financial abuse.”

The motion was seconded by Labor’s Aston MHR Mary Doyle, while National’s Cowper MHR Pat Conaghan pushed for stronger guidelines for the banking sector to help them recognise financial abuse.

Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing chief executive officer Alison Evans said the centre supported the motion.

“Economic abuse may be one aspect of a complex pattern of behaviours engaged in by perpetrators in order to control another person,” Dr Evans said.

“Economic abuse is a common form of domestic and family violence.

“To be living in fear and to have no economic security is no way to live and it’s indecent to just stand by and let this happen.”

Debate on the motion set to continue at a later date. It was adjourned after Casey MHR Aaron Violi commended Ms Mascarenhas for putting the motion forward.

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