Legal groups, financial counsellors and domestic violence advocates have warned that the federal government’s plan to loosen lines of credit and remove serious protections for women experiencing economic abuse could escalate financial manipulation.
Removing the laws could also reduce the ability of advocates – including a community lawyer – to assist survivors with debts that have accrued during abusive relationships.
Chief executive of Financial Rights Legal Centre, Karen Cox, said the current lending obligations prescribe important steps that often identify “red flags” in domestic and family abuse. She said it’s an “important” step in identifying and preventing any further violence.
Laura Bianchi, Redfern Legal Centre’s Financial Abuse Service NSW team leader and coordinator of Economic Abuse Reference Group NSW, said its members have grave concerns about the impact of removing lending protections for victim-survivors.
“The wind back of responsible lending obligations will have dire consequences for the people experiencing financial abuse. Coerced debt is a common factor preventing the victim-survivors from leaving a violent relationship and re-establishing their lives,” she said.