Marking International Economic Harm Awareness Day
December 5, 2022
To mark International Economic Harm Awareness Day, we held an event on 24th November to launch our Making a difference: economic harm snapshot.
The snapshot is a collaboration between ourselves, financial services, and other not-for-profit organisations, that outlines recently developed responses and supports that are tailored to economic harm in New Zealand.
It aims to encourage organisations and individuals to look with fresh eyes at the role they can play to eliminate family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand.
We also heard from a range of speakers who shared their insight into the need to address economic harm in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Rachel Williams, Family Violence Specialist and Social Worker, from Hutt Valley Women’s Refuge, told us almost all her clients are experiencing economic harm.
She said that until recently there hasn’t been a service that addresses the financial and economic challenges that come with family violence that have often prevented her clients from leaving violent relationships.
Rachel told us that recent developments in responses across sectors, including our economic harm support service pilot, have filled a massive gap and must continue because it is essential to helping women live free from violence.
“If we can give people financial security and confidence, we can help them leave their abusive relationships.”
Amy* our client who experienced the long-lasting impacts of economic harm explained how difficult it was to regain her independence because of the unintended consequences of government and financial sector policies and processes.
Amy shared her poor credit history and the $15,000 of unmanageable debt she was left with were the biggest barriers to becoming independent and no longer reliant on other people or organisations.
She said getting rid of the debt made the biggest impact in her journey after leaving her violent relationship; it has meant Amy is able to work again, buy food for her family, save a little bit of money each day and make her own decisions.
Everything linked to money was hard, really hard. I had sympathy because I was in a Refuge but not a lot of places understood what that meant.
Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence
We also heard from Honourable Marama Davidson, Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence, who acknowledged that there is more work to do in highlighting the unique requirements of addressing economic harm.
She said Crown systems need to change if people are being forced to defraud government agencies to get the support they need to leave abusive relationships. The Minister also said the government will continue to keep talking with organisations working in this space to improve and build on the government’s strategy, Te Aokerekura.
We know from our clients, and research both domestically and internationally, and from our partners working in family violence, that people experiencing family violence are having to choose between violence and poverty. Therefore, we must continue to work together to shift the dial and support people to overcome the impacts of family violence, including economic harm, to achieve independence and live free from violence.
We all have a role to play and together we can make a difference.
Thank you to all our speakers for sharing their stories, insights and perspectives.
*The name and any identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the person involved
If you are concerned about economic harm or want to talk to someone about the money side of your relationship, our Financial Wellbeing Coach – Economic harm is trained in advocacy and understands the impact of economic harm.
You can speak to her by calling 0800 466 370 option 4.
Or you can click here to find more support