Domestic violence contributes to poor financial wellness and low super

Workplaces can now advocate for and support women at work to help close the retirement savings gap that women are facing. 

Women in Super has launched its Domestic Violence Charter to encourage employers to identify and protect women from family violence, including economic abuse, which is now formally recognised as a form of domestic violence. 

Women are still retiring with far less than men, and this isn't looking to change anytime soon unless we make it change. With ongoing abuses against women continuing in our communities reasonably unimpeded, the situation won't change for many women at all. 

Rosie Batty spoke at the Women in Super roadshow, saying, “It is my mission to bring domestic violence out of the shadows and in to the light. Women in all industries suffer from family abuse; many of them strong, educated women.

“Women who are seen as vulnerable are not exclusively the ones who suffer, it is one-in-three women who have experienced or suffered abuse in Australia. It includes judges, magistrates and pilots; professional and qualified women.

“Do you think that, in my years of abuse, I had any time to consider my superannuation and finances? When you’re in an abusive relationship, every day is about survival,” she said.

Most of the conversations about the retirement savings gap revolve around unequal pay, lower  paid jobs, and raising children, however abuse and violence play a substantial role in crushing women's confidence at work and home when it comes to finances. 

The financial consequences of abuse are not often taken into account. 

Batty said, “It is our systematic structures that are severely letting us down and the government is only just realising the true extent of the issue of domestic violence.

“We spend so much time asking ‘why doesn’t she just leave?’ but this mentality is drawing the focus away from the perpetrators – it is just another form of victim blaming.

“Women who leave face poverty and homelessness, those who don’t lose confidence and cannot focus on things like career and superannuation, and we are wondering why there is a retirement savings gap?”

Change is in the air. Keeping an eye out for domestic violence victims when you are at work, and addressing it instead of ignoring it, is part of changing our culture of turning a blind eye. Financial wellness - and physical, mental and emotional wellness - are key components of a healthy society. 

“Most women will hide their struggle out of a fear of how they will be perceived in their workplace, but fostering a work environment that encourages strong relationships and awareness will provide an opportunity for women to seek help,” Batty said.

“This is not a feminist conspiracy; this is a gender issue that if addressed will have positive implications for every member and facet of society.

“If we don’t approach this as a gender issue then we will never address the real problem which is respect for women.”