Members in Need of Extra Help
DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE
Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone and cause you to live in fear. You may need help in protecting your financial independence, managing your finances safely if and when you leave, or rebuilding for a secure long-term future.
- Call 000 if you are in immediate danger.
- To access 24/7 counselling and support call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.
- To speak with a team member at TCU who can help you manage your finances during difficult circumstances call 08 8999 0777.
What is Domestic and Family Violence
In Australian law, ‘Family Violence’ is defined as:
- “violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family or causes the family member to be fearful.”
Family Violence means much more than physical violence. It includes:
- emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial or economic abuse; and
- damage to property.
The way our employees deal with Members who may be affected by Family Violence should facilitate, rather than act as a barrier to identifying Family Violence and improve the experience of those affected by Family Violence.
TCU defines domestic and family violence as behaviour by a person towards a current or former family member that:
- Is physically or sexually abusive;
- Is emotionally or psychologically abusive;
- Is economically abusive (limiting access to money or impacting overall financial wellbeing);
- Is threatening or coercive;
- Controls or dominates the family member in any other way, causing that family member to fear for their safety or wellbeing, or that of a family member or another person; or
- Causes a child to hear, witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of other domestic and family violence behaviours.
Every person’s situation is unique and the right actions for you will depend on your individual circumstances. We can help you as you make decisions about your circumstances.
We believe in providing a level of extra care in the way we support customers experiencing family or domestic violence.
Protecting your Privacy
Depending on your personal circumstances, we can help you:
- Change your online banking login details, password and PINs to help protect the security of your information. Please note this may not be appropriate in circumstances where a violent family member is controlling your finances using your details, and any change may be a threat to your safety.
- Change arrangements for anything we may need to send to you. For example, by nominating the mailing address of a trusted family member or PO Box. We can also arrange for any new debit cards to be delivered for collection at your local branch.
- Change the way you bank, for example: open a cashless account to limit the availability of cash.
Protecting your Money
Depending on your personal circumstances, we can help you:
- Remove or change your online banking access. Note that this may not be appropriate in circumstances where this could cause a risk to your personal safety.
- Understand your power of attorney arrangement, if you have one. If you have revoked an existing power of attorney or appointed a new attorney, we will update our records accordingly.
Maintaining control of your Money
We understand that any separation can be a time of financial difficulty. In some cases, financial worry can be a barrier to leaving a violent situation. Customers experiencing domestic and family violence who would like to discuss financial difficulty or concerns in relation to debts owed to the TCU, can call 08 8999 0777. TCU will determine assistance on a case by case basis, which may include for example:
- Giving you time and space, for example varying loan repayments and / or extending terms for short term financial relief until you are able to discuss your longer-term plans.
- Reviewing your banking needs. For example, you might consider switching to a cashless account
We can help you to work through your financial arrangements and separate them from your family member, where possible. We understand that gaining financial self-sufficiency can often be the difference between staying in or leaving a violent situation.
In some cases, we may refer you to an independent and free financial counselling service. A financial counsellor can help you with your overall financial situation, advise you on what other benefits or support you might be entitled to, and refer you on to the appropriate family violence support services in your local area.
Understanding your Rights
You may be able to obtain free legal advice from a community legal centre or Legal Aid office in your state or territory.
Accessing information and Support
- Home | 1800RESPECT provides access to telephone or online counselling, information on safety planning, and information on how to support someone who is experiencing domestic and family violence. Call 1800 737 732.
- Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support. Suicide Prevention. provides Australians experiencing a personal crisis with 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14.
- Separating with debt: a guide to your legal options | Attorney-General’s Department provides family law and consumer credit law information, options and referral points to assist separating couples manage debt.
- NT – Domestic Violence Crisis Line – 1800 019 116 (24/7)
- Anglicare – 08 8985 0000
Additional Counselling support
- Relationships Australia provides support groups and counselling on relationships, and for abusive and abused partners. To be connected to the nearest Relationships Australia, call 1300 364 277.
- Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline. Victims Services has a dedicated contact line for Aboriginal victims of crime who would like information on victims’ rights, how to access counselling and financial assistance. Call 1800 019 123.
Legal and Financial Support
- National Debt Helpline – 1800 007 007
- Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission – 1800 019 343
Support for Men
- Free help, support, referrals & counselling for men: MensLine Australia Australia provides a free service offering national telephone and online support, information and referrals for men with family and relationship concerns. Call 1300 789 978.
Support for Children
- Child Protection Helpline – 132 111
- Kids Helpline. Free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25 in Australia. Call 1800 551 800.
- Australian Childhood Foundation. Counselling for children and young people affected by abuse. Call 1800 176 453
FINANCIAL ABUSE SUPPORT
What is Financial Abuse
Financial abuse is when one person exerts power and control over another person’s finances.
Sadly, financial abuse happens between family members, friends, carers and third parties. This can be a hidden problem, which makes it harder to detect. Financial abuse comes in different forms across many groups and can be perpetrated in many ways.
Some people are more likely to suffer because they may already be experiencing vulnerability and could be dependent on others. We will continue to focus on preventing abuse by educating our staff on its signs and acting as soon as possible. We will empower our staff to speak up when they see that something isn’t right and act on their suspicions.
There can be many different reasons why financial abuse starts. For example:
- A person may feel a sense of entitlement to your money.
- Someone in a position of trust, such as an attorney or person appointed to manage your affairs, may not be well-equipped for that role.
- It may be a gradual change, where someone initially managing your money responsibly begins to take advantage opportunistically.
It’s important to remember that there are no circumstances in which financial abuse is acceptable, so if you think this might be happening to you, don’t be afraid to get help.
Protecting yourself from Financial Abuse
To help protect yourself from financial abuse:
- If someone asks for money, discuss it first with a trusted family member or friend.
- Get your affairs in order. Talk to TCU about setting up direct debits and periodical payments for bill payments.
- Consider who has third party authorisations over your accounts and ensure that they are trusted.
- Consider planning ahead for the future to ensure your wishes are followed by carefully choosing and setting up a trustworthy person to act as your representative with power of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person the right to make financial and/or legal decisions on your behalf. You may have heard of two types of power of attorney – ‘general’ and ‘enduring’. A general power of attorney is in place for a particular period of time or for a particular purpose – for example if you are away from home for an extended period. An enduring power of attorney remains valid over time – even when you are no longer able to make your own decisions. You can set it up now to start at a later time specified by you, or when you no longer have the capacity to manage your financial and legal affairs. Equally you can set it up to start as soon as the attorney has accepted their appointment. When granting a power of attorney you can put limits on what your attorney can do.
- Never rush into a financial decision. Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion or independent advice.
- Feel free to say ‘no’ – it’s your money.
- Trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right.
- Keep track of your money by checking your bank statements regularly to make sure there have been no unauthorised transactions.
- Open your own mail if you can.
- Stay in touch with the people you trust and care about.
- Never sign a document or make a large financial decision unless you understand the terms and what your obligations are. If I doubt, seek independent legal advice.
We can help you put a number of protection measures in place such as withdrawal notification alerts and withdrawal limits on accounts.
It can be hard to recognise when you are experiencing financial abuse – particularly when the abuser is someone you have placed your trust in, or are dependent on for aspects of your care. It often involves actions over a period of time.
Understanding if you are experiencing Financial Abuse
Warning signs may include:
- Another person is accessing or controlling your bank accounts or using them without your consent.
- You are being pressured to change your will, power of attorney or other legal arrangements.
- A friend or family member is pressuring you to appoint them as your enduring power of attorney.
- The person you’ve appointed as your power of attorney is not acting in your best interests. For example they’re taking money from your bank account to pay their own bills.
- Your signature has been forged on withdrawal slips.
- You are being pressured to sign a document, such as a blank withdrawal form, or feel you are being misled about what you are being asked to sign.
- Your bills haven’t been paid, even though you have entrusted someone to do this for you.
- Your money is being used for a purpose other than what you wanted.
- Unexplained withdrawals or transfers have been made from your bank account.
- You’re no longer receiving your mail, including account statements, and you don’t know why.
- You are being isolated from your family or friends or threatened with being isolated if you don’t give the abuser what they want.
- You are feeling pressured to take out a loan for another person’s benefit.
- You are being made to feel guilty if you don’t give money to the abuser or their family.
How we can help you
We understand that it can be hard to talk about, or take action to stop financial abuse. In our branches, you are entitled to speak with one of our staff members separately from your support person, friend or carer. When you tell us that you suspect financial abuse, depending on your personal circumstances, we may:
- Put a freeze on your accounts or delay a specific transaction or set of transactions while we investigate your situation. This may prevent any transactions being made, including by anyone holding a power of attorney, administration or guardianship order.
- Check that any person acting on your behalf appears to have appropriate authorisation based on the information available to us.
- Help you to understand your existing financial arrangements with us.
- Help you change any online banking logon details and PINs to help protect your money and the security of your information. Please note this may not be appropriate in circumstances where an abuser controlling your finances may potentially become violent.
- Help you change the address for any mail that we send to you, including any new cards. You may wish to nominate the address of a trusted person, or your local branch.
Understanding your Rights
If you believe you may be experiencing financial abuse, you should seek legal advice. You may be able to obtain free legal advice from a community legal centre or Legal Aid office.
Accessing information and Support
Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support. Lifeline provides Australians experiencing a personal crisis with 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14.
Financial abuse and how to protect yourself
What is family and domestic violence – Family and domestic violence – Services Australia: Information on elder and financial abuse as an aspect of family violence – including Government support available.
Access Australian aged care information and services | My Aged Care is the Australian Government’s online and phone service with information about aged care services. Call 1800 200 422.
Powers of attorneys, guardianship and administration
Australian Guardianship & Administration Council – Australian Guardianship & Administration Council (agac.org.au) The Australian Guardianship and Administration Council website at has links to NT agencies with information on power of attorney documents and other guardianship issues.
Support and advocacy
Making a complaint about aged care services | My Aged Care – Elder abuse concerns. Information on elder abuse and contact details for information and support options in every State and Territory.
NT – Elder Abuse Information Line – 1800 037 072
National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 or visit the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) website to find out more about advocacy services.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your debt situation, you may want to consider contacting the National Debt Helpline Welcome Page – National Debt Helpline (ndh.org.au) which offers a free, independent and confidential financial counselling service. A financial counsellor can help you with your overall debt situation, advise you on what other benefits or support you might be entitled to, advocate on your behalf with all your creditors and refer you on to other appropriate support services in your local area.