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A grassroots Sydney organisation is leading the charge to improve visibility about financial abuse in the community, launching multi-lingual educational workshops to educate and empower vulnerable women.

Marrickville Legal Centre (MLC) kicked off Savvy Finance, a series of e-learning modules, in November 2021 but is now extending this to in-person sessions as part of the Inner West Council’s Collab(Orate) initiative for International Women’s Day 2022.

Women who have experienced or are at risk of domestic and family violence can access the workshops, ran over three sessions delivered in either English, Mandarin, Vietnamese or Arabic. They are designed to give women the confidence to recognise coercive control and financial abuse as domestic violence, and how to seek help.

MLC domestic violence worker Angela Boyland said recent high-profile stories of financial abuse like Britney Spears and the late Stan Lee, have brought this issue into public consciousness.

“Financial abuse is a powerful tool used by perpetrators to exercise coercive control over their victims,” Boyland said.

“The scariest part of financial abuse is the time it takes before women will identify that this is happening. The Savvy Finance e-learning modules are all about increasing earlier identification of this issue for women and giving women tools for managing their situation.”

A study conducted by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Deloitte in 2020 found nearly one in 20 women were subjected to financial abuse in Australia, compared to approximately one in 50 men.

Financial abuse can take many forms but includes a pattern of control and exploitation of a person’s money or finances, affecting their ability to get, store and use money.

Marrickville Legal Centre, in partnership with Inner West Council, is hosting a morning tea for community workers to raise awareness about financial abuse on Tuesday 15 March.