16 Oct Meet our financial counsellors
We see that most victim-survivors of family violence have experienced financial abuse, which can prevent them from leaving or rebuilding their lives.
That’s why our financial counsellors Liz and Linda are so important. We spoke to the team about what drives them.
What are the most common things you are helping people with?
We help women navigate financial problems they have after leaving family violence relationships. This includes providing information about their options, rights and responsibilities and may include advocacy, that is speaking to companies, businesses or government departments on their behalf. Commonly we talk to debt collectors, gas and electricity companies, water companies, telecommunications, banks and creditors, Centrelink, the ATO and Fines Victoria. Ultimately helping women get rid of debt and move forward with their economic recovery after leaving family violence.
How did you find yourself in this role?
Liz: My parents had social justice values that they instilled in their six children. My father was a post-war refugee and married my mother with no money, we grew up very modestly in public housing in the Western suburbs.
When I finished high school, I worked for a few years before going back to university to study Social Work. I really wanted to work in the community sector working with people who were financially disadvantaged and specifically working with women affected by family violence.
I later obtained a Diploma of Financial Counselling and have since worked in several different community organisations. I was very keen to come to Women’s Legal, being an organisation leading in the area of Family Violence Financial Counselling and contributing to policy and law reform.
Linda: I came to financial counselling after working for many years in general administration in petroleum, finance and more latterly in community health, as office manager for an organisation assisting clients withdraw from benzodiazepines.
Initially working in a general financial counselling role, when the opportunity arose to work in the specialised field of Family Violence Financial Counselling at Women’s Legal I grabbed it, as I was motivated by the opportunity to help women affected by economic abuse.
What is it that drives you?
Liz: I am very lucky to have worked in the Financial Counselling sector since the mid-1990s and seen the significant changes to the “Financial sector” in understanding family violence and the impacts on victims/survivors.
I really love working with women and helping them in their recovery and it is through the courage and strength of women that gives me the motivation in working towards systemic inequities.
The family violence sector together with Financial Counsellors and Consumer Advocates working have worked hard together over the decades (and continue to do) to achieve systemic change in policy and law reform.
Linda: I am very motivated to assist clients who are experiencing economic abuse, women who have incurred, in some cases an immense amount of debt through no fault of their own and to assist them to get back on their “feet” financially.
We are fortunate at Women’s Legal to have a team of professionals who we work with together in assisting women in their recovery by our integrated approach of shared decision making and case planning.