07 July 2015
Star Weekly Northern
More than half of all victims of family violence suffer physical and economic abuse at the hands of their partners, according to a community welfare organisation.
To address the issue, Kildonan Uniting Care convened a forum last week of representatives from utility providers, banks, telecommunications and debt collection companies to speak about innovative ways the issue is being addressed in Australia and abroad.
Kildonan chief executive officer Stella Avramopoulos said an estimated 1.86 million Australians were experiencing “financial abuse” each year.
“In many cases abusive partners will refuse to contribute to household bills, transfer utility bills into the victim’s name leaving the victim to accrue substantial debts, or get the energy or water disconnected as a means to control, manipulate or punish their partner,” Ms Avramopoulos said.
Wollert resident Jane’s experience of physical and economic abuse is typical of many family violence victims. Shortly after Jane’s daughter was born, her partner of more than five years started using ice.
She said his drug use quickly spiralled out of control. Mood swings and violent behaviour became more frequent and vicious, and before long he stopped censoring his behaviour around their young daughter.
It wasn’t long before Jane began fearing for her life. “He was very violent, I don’t even know where to start,” said Jane, who declined to reveal her name for fear of reprisal from her former partner.
“He was earning enough but he wasn’t supporting us at all. He used all our savings to feed his drug habit and I was depending on benefits to pay the bills.”
On July 28 Kildonan, Hume council and energy infrastructure company Jemena are hosting a ‘Bring your Bills’ session to help people understand and manage their utility bills, learn about efficiency and where to receive financial help.
It will be at the Broadmeadows Community Hub from 10am-4pm. Details: 1800 545 366