Financial abuse

Financial abuse in small businesses

by Angus Jones

Not-for-profit organisation EACH, has been selected as a CommBank Next Chapter Innovation Partner, in a bid to tackle financial abuse within Australian small businesses.

Financial abuse in small business is a serious form of family violence and is one of the most powerful ways an abuser can keep a partner or family member trapped in an abusive relationship. However, this form of family violence continues to fly under the radar.

Victims of financial abuse in small business are often turned away for support, with a severe lack of pathways for resolution. Consumer protections, tax, and corporate legislation do not recognise financial violence, and community legal centres rarely take on business issues.

Common lived experiences of financial abuse in small business includes:

  • Being made a director of a company without consent, with liability to ASIC and ATO.
  • Signed as personal guarantor to business loans.
  • Forced to take out credit cards or loans in their personal name for business use.
  • Personal Tax File Number used by others to withdraw funds from the business.
  • Assets illegally stripped or transferred from a business into another entity or to the perpetrator.
  • Having a business sabotaged, account emails and passwords changed so they are not able to access the tools needed to run their business.
  • Made to work in a family business for little to no renumeration.

The impacts are complex, costly, and isolating. The onus is on the victim survivors of financial abuse to prove their innocence at their own cost. Resolution can also take years – some cases have needed more than 40 organisations to resolve the abuse

EACH is the only organisation in the country that offers specialist small business financial counselling, dealing with thousands of cases within this sector.

To address this growing issue, EACH is developing a national, specialised program that will provide support for victims experiencing financial abuse in the context of small business. Working with banks, ASIC, ATO and legal centres, they will seek to resolve complex financial impacts of financial abuse – creating pathways to resolution that are currently not available. With $100,000 funding and mentorship from CommBank, EACH will develop a scoping report to initiate the process.

Click on the file to download the Finacial abuse fact sheet.

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