“I cannot thank the women’s legal service enough. I’d be dead without you guys. I would be dead, there’s no two ways about it. No one would help me, not a soul, not a solicitor locally, or anywhere…”
Victims of family violence often continue to suffer economic abuse at the hands of their former partners long after leaving the perpetrator. The Stepping Stones project focuses on assisting women to end the cycle of economic abuse and improve their economic wellbeing after family violence.
Stepping Stones addresses the complex legal and financial issues facing victims of family violence which prevent meaningful economic recovery. Delivering integrated legal and financial counselling services to women who are experiencing financial hardship in the context of family violence, Stepping Stones has assisted 147 vulnerable women with complex and multiple problems over the past twelve months.
The results of this project have been life changing. Stepping Stones has helped reduce the debts of women experiencing financial hardship in the context of family violence by over $200,000, particularly in circumstances where debts were accrued by an abusive former partner. WLSV has provided invaluable assistance to victims of family violence who are dealing with utility companies and banks, including the reconnection of utilities and assistance in obtaining utility relief grants. WLSV has assisted victims of family violence to reach payment plan agreements where they are struggling to meet debt repayments, such as negotiating with banks in circumstances where women are at risk of losing their homes due to an inability to meet mortgage repayments after family violence.
The Stepping Stones Project also includes a research component that involves conducting in-depth research of the systemic barriers that prevent women from obtaining economic well-being after family violence. The Stepping Stones research report will be released in September 2015.