Consumer advocates play an important role by referring people to AFCA or by providing representation throughout the complaints process.
This page has information for consumer advocates whose clients have experienced financial abuse as a result of domestic violence.
You can find other helpful information for consumer advocates here.
Domestic violence and financial abuse
Financial abuse is a form of family and domestic violence. It can have long-term impacts on someone’s financial wellbeing and independence.
It can include:
- Someone else in the household making all the financial decisions
- Having limited or no access to bank accounts and other financial arrangements
- Being forced into loans or incurring debts for someone else’s benefit.
How AFCA can help
AFCA – Australia’s financial ombudsman – provides individuals and small businesses with fair, free and independent dispute resolution for financial complaints.
Our service is impartial, which means we don’t take sides. If an agreement cannot be reached by negotiation or conciliation, we will decide on a fair outcome.
Decisions we make are binding on the financial firm. We can award compensation for losses suffered because of a financial firm’s error or inappropriate conduct, however we do not impose fines or award compensation to punish financial firms.
Complaints involving domestic violence and financial abuse
In 2021-22, AFCA resolved over 500 complaints from people with lived experience of domestic violence and financial abuse.
If you are supporting a client with a financial complaint who has been impacted by domestic violence or financial abuse, you can either refer them to AFCA or represent them in their complaint with us.
AFCA also considers complaints involving financial hardship and we allocate them to a dedicated team.
Our people are trained to handle complaints with compassion and safety. We will not share sensitive information with financial firms without consent.
Where appropriate, we encourage you to share information about AFCA’s free external dispute resolution service. You will find links to order a poster and brochures for your office, along with our logo pack for your website under ‘Resources’ below.
AFCA has resources for consumer advocates who are supporting people who have been impacted by domestic violence.
- AFCA Approach: Joint accounts and family violence
- Factsheet: Impact of family law settlements – banking and finance complaints
- Information about financial hardship
- Becoming an authorised representative
- More information for consumer advocates
- Order an AFCA poster for your office
- Promote AFCA by downloading a logo pack
Our publications are free to order online. Find all our publications including our complaint form and brochures here.
We can tailor our ways of working depending on your client’s individual circumstances.
Case study – Negative RHI removed from credit file
Arisha was in a financially abusive relationship, and her partner coerced Arisha into taking out a car loan. When they separated, Arisha's partner moved out of the home, took the vehicle, and ended contact. Arisha was not sure about the location of her ex-partner or the vehicle. After four years, Arisha was contacted as the repayments had not been made, and the financial firm reported adverse Repayment History Information (RHI) on her credit file.
After Arisha contacted the financial firm to resolve the issue, the loan was finalised at a reduced settlement for her ex-partner to pay. However, as the financial firm had no knowledge of the domestic abuse, the RHI remained on her file. Arisha contacted AFCA about the negative RHI. We reviewed her complaint, and although they had not made an error, in fairness, we determined that the financial firm should remove it.
Case study – Unpaid home loan matter resolved by conciliation
Tolú had been with her partner for many years, and during that time the relationship became abusive. Tolú’s ex-partner was controlling the family’s finances and had been lying about the status of their home loan repayments. By the time Tolú contacted AFCA, she had separated from her partner and sold the home, but the sale did not cover the cost of the loan. Tolú’s parents had used their own home to secure the loan, and it was now at risk.
When Tolú contacted AFCA, we took the time to listen to what happened, and the impact of domestic violence on her finances. We set up a conciliation call with Tolú, her financial counsellor, and a representative from the bank. After discussing Tolú’s situation and the history of the loan, the bank decided to waive the remaining shortfall.
Case study – Financial firm accepts disclosure of domestic violence
Micha was under financial stress after losing his job during the pandemic and having serious health issues that impacted his ability to find a new job. While trying to provide for his children, he took out two payday loans that he could not afford to repay.
At first, Micha was private about his personal situation. He had been experiencing domestic violence from his ex-husband and took out the loans to pay for court fees associated with an order of protection. When Micha disclosed his situation to AFCA, we worked with him to protect his privacy while still providing key information to resolve his complaint. Once the financial firm understood Micha’s situation, they waived the remaining balances and fees on both loans.
Other places to get help
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000 for police and ambulance help.
- 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – 24-hour confidential information, counselling and support
- 13 YARN (13 92 76) – Crisis support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- Full Stop Australia (1800 385 578) – Confidential trauma specialist counselling for people of all genders who are impacted by violence and abuse, as well as their friends, colleagues and family members
- National Debt Helpline (1800 007 007) – Free and confidential financial counselling services
- Women’s Legal Services Australia – A national network of community legal centres specialising in women’s legal issues. Visit wlsa.org.au/members to find a community legal centre in your state or territory.