Protecting against financial abuse in a pandemic with Moo Baulch – Commonwealth Bank

By Courtney Mathew

10 Jul 2020

Instances of domestic and family violence are shown to increase in times of disaster. The coronavirus pandemic is proving to be no exception globally, with financial abuse – where someone uses money to control their partner – on the rise globally. While staying connected is more important than ever, there’s a risk that abusers may monitor computers, mobile devices or online accounts, increasing the risk of financial abuse.

In our latest Ask the Experts, Moo Baulch, Head of Customer Vulnerability at our Ruby member Commonwealth Bank joined us to talk about:

Moo Baulch joined CBA at the beginning of 2020, bringing more than twenty years working in domestic violence policy, practice and response. Moo is recognised as one of Australia’s leading voices on violence against women and an international expert on intimate partner and family violence in LGBTIQ relationships. Moo was recently awarded an OAM in recognition of her contribution to community health having worked in Australia, South East Asia, Spain and the UK supporting grassroots community-based responses to inequality, social justice and peace-building. Moo is extremely new to the world of financial institutions and is on a steep learning curve but is hugely encouraged to see banks, corporates and the private sector stepping up to the challenge of ending violence against women in Australia, and we were privileged to have her speak about this important issue.

We learned that for many people home is not the safest place. Data shows that domestic and family violence increases in times of disaster and the coronavirus pandemic has specific risks that contribute to this escalation. This includes isolation with a violent partner, financial instability, stress and being cut-off from family or community support. Some services are already reporting an increase in calls for help as a result of coronavirus.

Financial abuse – a form of domestic and family violence – is also likely to increase as people grapple with maintaining an income, managing their debts, unstable employment arrangements and working through new home arrangements.

CBA has developed a new guide to outline the impact of the coronavirus and domestic and family violence; with helpful information about how to identify financial abuse, pathways to support and useful suggestions about staying safe and staying connected. This includes information on Coronavirus specific risks, including those relating to early access provisions to superannuation; risks related to running family businesses at this difficult time; and the move to online and cashless shopping.  We recommend members take a look at this resource and learn from it.

Commonwealth Bank has also partnered with Our Watch, a national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, to provide employers across the country with access to free online resources to help support employees experiencing domestic and family violence.

Additionally, CBA have created awareness flyers for Financial Abuse and Elder Abuse, translating them into 16 languages to support our diverse communities across Australia.

What can customers can do if they’re experiencing financial abuse?

People should contact their bank and let them know what’s going on.  Most banks will have a process to support customers to safely seek financial assistance. Your bank may be able to help you:

CBA’s Community Wellbeing team

Resources available to help you become an advocate for others