People’s Choice Credit Union has today been accredited as a White Ribbon Workplace, becoming Australia’s first financial institution to successfully complete the internationally recognised accreditation program which acknowledges organisations that demonstrate a shared vision that women should live and work in safety, free from all forms of abuse.
White Ribbon’s Workplace accreditation program, which has reached more than 600,000 employees nationally, empowers and supports staff to prevent and respond to the issue of violence against women says White Ribbon Australia CEO, Libby Davies.
“People’s Choice has demonstrated effective leadership, resource allocation, communication, HR policy development and training to ensure a safe and respectful workplace, supporting employees to be respectful across all spheres,” said Ms Davies.
Steve Laidlaw, People’s Choice CEO and White Ribbon Ambassador, said that the attainment of the accreditation was very important to the credit union’s 1,100 staff – 70% of which are female – and that People’s Choice’s commitment to standing up and speaking out also extended to its 353,000 members across Australia.
“One in three Australian women experience domestic violence – a sad and completely preventable reality. We wanted to use People’s Choice’s highly engaged staff culture and deep appreciation of respectful relationships with women to demonstrate the benefits of taking a stand against this type of issue in the workplace,” Mr Laidlaw said.
“While I am extremely proud of our White Ribbon accreditation, our commitment to stopping violence against women does not end here. As Australia’s first White Ribbon accredited financial institution, we are in a unique position to raise awareness with our members and the community about financial abuse,” he said.
“Experienced in 98% of abusive relationships, yet one of the lesser-known and understood forms of domestic violence, financial abuse can be one of the main barriers for women seeking to escape violent relationships,” he said.
“By taking control of a person’s finances, an abuser can effectively trap someone in an abusive relationship – giving them no way to support themselves or their children if they leave,” he said.
“We are also reminding everyone that People’s Choice, and many financial institutions, can help in times of financial hardship,” he said.
“If a woman is experiencing financial abuse or financial hardship, they should contact their banking organisation as soon as possible, as most financial organisations have hardship provisions to support their customers through difficult times,” he said.
Five signs of financial abuse
1. Limiting spending decisions
Abusers often control family finances by monitoring purchases and demanding they authorise when, where and how all money is spent. Often a first sign of financial abuse, this subtle or overt control of a victim’s spending is an indication of controlling behaviour that is a hallmark of domestic violence.
2. Restricting access to funds
Not allowing someone to have bank accounts or credit cards, not including them in investment or banking decisions, hiding assets and running up large amounts of debt on joint accounts all limit the financial freedom of a victim. By the time she attempts to take back control of her finances, a victim may find that the accounts have all been moved, or she no longer has knowledge of, or access to, the family funds.
3. Withholding money or enforcing an allowance
Refusing to work or contribute to the family income, or withholding funds for the victim or children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine, leaves a victim powerless to their abuser. Further control is gained by providing a meagre ‘allowance’ for the victim, rather than access to funds.
4. Invasion of personal privacy and security
Gaining access to savings accounts, insurance policies and the like allows an abuser to gain control over the life of their victim. This can quickly escalate to illegal activity with lasting effects for the victim such as identity theft, theft of property or inheritances, filing of fraudulent tax returns and false insurance claims, and refusal to pay bills and other behaviour which could have permanent effects on their credit history.
5. Controlling income
Abusers commonly use violence or intimidation to keep someone from working, earning an income and having their independence. Sabotaging work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing the victim at the workplace, causing a victim to lose their job, physically or otherwise abusing a victim before important meetings or interviews, forbidding a victim to attend training or preventing them from access to advancement opportunities all diminish a victim’s freedom and keep them under an abuser’s control.
If you or someone you know is affected by family violence or sexual assault, visit whiteribbon.org.au/finding-help for information or call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) for confidential 24 hour counselling. In an emergency, call 000.