The primary reason women return to abusive relationships is due to their lack of economic security, and financial resources.
Your Toolkit is our response to this, a free online, all-encompassing resource that provides a step-by-step guide and practical information to help women facing domestic abuse transition into a safer, independent future.
So to start 2022 on the right path to this, or whenever you find this article, here are our suggestions to get your money matters in order and prepare to become financially independent.
Own your own bank account
It’s important that you have your own bank account regardless of the state of your relationship. Having your own account allows you to retain financial independence, and access or save money without your partner knowing. Even if you have joint accounts, you can set up an account with any secondary bank.
Note, if you believe opening an account could jeopardise your safety and put you at risk of abuse, ensure that no paperwork is delivered to your home address, use a trusted friend or a PO box for your mailing address. Find more information on what support is available via your bank in section 1b.
Have an emergency fund
Having an emergency fund is crucial to securing a safe and independent financial future, it should act as a buffer to buy you time if your safety is at risk due to abuse.
Squirrel away any money that you can, if it’s cash; keep it at a trusted friend or family member’s house, if it’s digital; try to open a bank account just for you.
If neither of these options are possible, credit cards or personal loans can offer a solution, learn more about these in section 4b.
Create smart saving and budgeting strategies now
If you have previously accessed all your money through joint accounts, or with your partner’s secondary income, getting used to budgeting your own money can be daunting. However, there is a lot of power in controlling and owning your finances and making them work for you.
There is an abundance of money saving tips online, if you have a secure internet connection spend some time researching habits and listening to expert suggestions.
Start 2022 by creating a budget, find tips on doing this in section 4a.
Include spending goals in your budget, try to think ahead and estimate what expenses you need to pay and when. Factor these into your budget, as an essential. Find information on how to create saving strategies in section 4d.
Set up myGov and link up services
Secure an easy rhythm to the year by setting up your myGov account, and linking services such as Medicare, tax and Centrelink. This will put you in a good position for tax time, or if you claim any Medicare or government assistance.
Apply for government income support payments
There are many types of support payments available through Centrelink, which you are entitled to claim depending on your ability to meet eligibility criteria. Get familiar with what support you can claim, and lodge an application online.
View a full detailed list of available support payments in section 3a.
If you are experiencing family and domestic abuse, a one off payment is available if you register your intent to claim within 7 days of the event, including from the day you decide to leave. You will be referred to a social worker as well as any other services you may need. Find more information at the Crisis Payments section of the Services Australia website.
A secondary federal government payment for those experiencing intimate partner violence is available through Uniting. Payments can be valued up to $5,000 including vouchers, goods and services and cash. Apply using this online form.
If you are a non-Australian citizen, but are a permanent resident or hold an approved visa, and cannot access other income support from Centrelink, the Special Benefit support payment provides assistance for severe financial hardship.
Find more information about money matters and keeping safe at Yourtoolkit.com.au
If you or someone you know is experiencing family and domestic violence and needs to talk to a confidential counsellor call 1800 Respect (1800 737 732).