Economic abuse and social security

26 November marks World Economic Abuse Awareness Day, and it’s a really important day for SSRV and our clients. At SSRV we see the significant and long term impacts economic abuse has on victim survivors through our family violence related work.

Economic abuse ‘is a form of domestic and family violence where one person controls or attempts to control their partner’s (or former partner’s) ability to acquire, use or maintain money or economic resources, threatening their potential for self sufficiency and economic security.

SSRV provides legal services to people who have experienced economic abuse in relation to payments from Centrelink in a variety of ways, including:

– People who have been coerced by their partners into applying for a Centrelink payment which they are not eligible for

– People who have had no knowledge of a Centrelink application having been lodged in their name, and who have never received payments, but are then subject to an over payment/debt

– Victim survivors who are living with the long lasting impacts of having never been able to report their partner/ex partner income correctly to Centrelink, correctly, through control, information withholding and coercion and who are then left with the fall out of having received an over payment

– Financial systems abuse where social security laws and processes are used as a way for perpetrators to continue to target, harass and control victim survivors through the provision of false information to Centrelink or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in order to prevent the victim survivor from accessing the financial support they need to support themselves and, often, their children.

These situations, and others, can create a situation where victim survivors have no access to money while they are experiencing economic abuse and cause ongoing financial hardship and legal issues for years, even after the abuse may have ended. You can find out more information about economic abuse, and ways to get help, from the Centre for Women’s Economic Safety – CWES.

Economic Justice Australia (EJA) has also recently published a report on Centrelink compliance and domestic violence; Debt, Duress and Dob-ins: Centrelink compliance processes and domestic violence, which is now available on the EJA website.

How to get help from SSRV or refer someone to SSRV

SSRV can provide advice for people who have a Centrelink problem and who have been affected by economic abuse. We can also provide information and support to workers who are assisting victim survivors of economic abuse.

For individuals experiencing economic abuse who want legal advice about related social security issues: al Call our Legal Assistance Line on 03 9481 0355, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. If you can’t call us, you can email your request for assistance to

Workers wanting to speak to a social security lawyer about issues their clients are experiencing can call our Worker Help Line on 03 9481 0655, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You can also refer your client to us by emailing their information and details to

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