29th November 2023 17:44
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (17:55): (634)

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education Minister Carroll. On Friday last week I attended the Walk Against Family Violence on the steps of this Parliament to advocate for a future where we are all safe, equal and respected. When walking among so many leaders in the family and intimate partner violence space there were many conversations about the importance of primary prevention. That is intervention that occurs before harm and can include measures such as improved education.

With that in mind the Australian Bureau of Statistics has for the first time collected data on the issue of economic abuse. This includes actions that control or limit access to economic resources and result in emotional harm or fear. It may include, for instance, forcing a partner to have a shared bank account that they do not have access to.

This data show that 1.6 million women and 780,000 men likely experience economic abuse in Australia. The results of economic abuse can extend to your credit score, whether you can work, where you can live and your ability to access secure accommodation. There is also a significant correlation between financial stress and partner violence and abuse.

Often this type of relationship abuse is not well understood.

People do not like to talk about money, and as a result it makes it much harder for those in abusive relationships to identify this as abuse. The Respectful Relationships curriculum and resources in Victoria only touch on economic abuse in a brief way, highlighting the most extreme examples of emptying accounts and withholding all money. This does not work to help young people identify the subtleties in how these patterns of behaviour develop.

The holistic inclusion of these subjects is essential for primary prevention. It ensures everyone has a good understanding of what healthy financial relationships look like. So the action I seek is that the minister commit to working with Respect Victoria and expanding the focus on economic abuse as part of the Respectful Relationships program.

Written Answer
Received: 7 February 2024
Hon. Ben Carroll
(Minister for Education, Minister for Medical Research)

I also attended the Walk against Family Violence and remain committed to the cause of eliminating violence against women and children.

The Victorian Government shares your commitment to creating a future where all people are respected, valued and treated equally. We know that changes in attitudes and behaviours can be achieved when positive attitudes, behaviours and equality are embedded in our education settings. 

That is why the Victorian Government has invested in Respectful Relationships to deliver training, support and funding to schools to implement the initiative. Respectful Relationships is proven to make a real difference and is a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The Victorian Curriculum provides the basis for teaching and learning about respectful relationships and identifies the knowledge, skills and understanding for students to be able to engage in respectful relationships.

The Department of Education supports schools to deliver this curriculum through the optional resources you refer to, comprising the Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships and Building Respectful Relationships teaching and learning materials, developed by education experts.

The department is already updating its Respectful Relationships teaching and learning materials to further support teachers’ knowledge, skills and confidence in teaching respectful relationships education. This will include additional content to support and strengthen students’ understanding of financial abuse.


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