13/01/2021 | Michelle Lensink MLC | Carolyn Power MP | Better Services | Lower Costs

Women will be the focus of a new program supporting at-risk South Australians with free and financial counselling, launching in early 2021.

A $150,000 Marshall Liberal Government funding commitment will enable the Zahra Foundation to provide a specialist financial counselling program across Adelaide’s north and South, Gawler/Barossa, Clare and the Limestone Coast.

The program will feature an information session, followed by free one-on-one financial counselling sessions to address specific needs including managing money during a separation and how to avoid financial abuse.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said funding for the program had been made possible thanks to a Federal Government boost in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We know that this year has been a particularly tough time for many South Australians, especially women living in at-risk households,” said Minister Lensink.

“One of the biggest barriers to women leaving abusive relationships is fear of financial hardship and poverty and this new financial counselling program will help equip at-risk South Australians with information to make informed decisions.

“This new program will teach women how to plan for a safe move into private rental accommodation, how to track expenses and set budgets.”

Minister Lensink said the Marshall Liberal Government remains committed to ending violence women and will continue to invest in programs to support South Australians experiencing or at risk of violence.

“Our focus remains on ensuring South Australian women feel safe and supported and know where to turn to for help,” said Minister Lensink.

Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Carolyn Power said that Zahra Foundation’s work is valuable in empowering and upskilling.

“Zahra Foundation provide women important assistance to get back up on their feet, and know they have support and can gain the skills to achieve financial independence,” said Mrs Power.

“It takes a whole community to combat domestic and family violence, and the work that organisations like Zahra Foundation undertake are important in addressing the impacts violence has on the lives of women.”

The Zahra Foundation works closely with Women’s Safety Services SA, the largest specialist domestic and family violence service in South Australia, so financial counselling can be delivered in tandem with initiatives that meet women’s immediate crisis needs, such as safety and housing.

Zahra Foundation General Manager Gemma Burdon said the economic impacts of COVID-19 and last summer’s bushfires have presented compounding challenges for women facing violence at home.

“We have seen an increase in enquiries for our programs and services during 2020," said Ms Burdon.

"Now more than ever, we need to support and empower women towards economic independence so they can secure long-term safety free from domestic and family violence and build a hopeful future for themselves and their children.”

Women can be referred to the program through Women’s Safety Services SA.