Financial security is an important aspect of health and wellbeing, maintaining independence and facilitating choice.

Why women’s money matters

There are some well recognised structural trends that impact upon women’s financial situation:

  • Women typically have lower average incomes than men
  • Women tend to experience broken work patterns as a result of caring responsibilities
  • Women have lower participation rates in superannuation and therefore, less superannuation
  • Longer life expectancy means that women’s savings need to stretch that little bit further
  • Increasing rates of divorce and lower remarriage rates mean that there are greater numbers of single women at retirement age than in the past

Because of these structural differences in men’s and women’s experiences, women do need financial information tailored to their experiences of major life events, such as divorce, death of a partner, acquiring an illness or disability. Experiencing major life changes like these can leave women vulnerable to future financial insecurity, and so it is important that during these times women receive accurate, unbiased and simple advice to inform their future financial wellbeing.

While there is a vast amount of financial information in the marketplace, it is not always targeted for specific consumer groups or specific life events. This can mean that the financial information that is available is not user-friendly for some groups of women.

Why specific financial information is needed for marginalised groups of women

Financial exclusion is concentrated among the most disadvantaged in our community, and contributes to a much wider problem of social exclusion. Financial exclusion has many negative consequences, such as reducing individuals’ ability to participate fully in social and economic activities, increasing financial hardship, and increasing basic poverty.

In the ACT, women are over-represented among the most financially disadvantaged (NATSEM, 2002), and make-up around two-thirds of the city’s most marginalised individuals. ACT women are also more likely than men to head sole-parent families.

As a result WCHM and CARE Financial Counselling worked together to create locally-informed financial resources tailored to particular population groups of women in the ACT vulnerable to experiencing financial disadvantage: women leaving domestic violence, women leaving prison and older single women. These resources are accessible below.

The resources are a direct response to what ACT women told us they need from financial information: information that is written in plain English and does not require detailed financial knowledge to be understood; advice about managing money through life stage transitions and/or relationship changes; information that is localised; and information that is tailored to their particular life circumstances.

A financial resource for women leaving domestic violence in the ACT

Women, particularly those with children, experiencing domestic violence in the ACT face particular financial pressures, which can exacerbate violence and limit the options available. Financial support and knowledge can be the difference between violence and safety for women. Once out of a violent relationship, separating finances and financial obligations from their abusive partners is important to starting a new life. Understanding who to talk to, how to safely plan for leaving, and what support options are available all contribute to supporting a woman to cope with domestic violence.

This resource aims to provide these women (and their friends or family members, or services who may be supporting them) with local, accessible and reliable information to help guide them with their specific needs, and to help improve their financial knowledge and access to support in the ACT.

This resource aims to provide women leaving domestic violence with local, accessible and reliable financial information. It will also be useful for friends, family members and service providers supporting women leaving domestic violence manage their finances in the ACT.

A financial resource for women leaving prison in the ACT

The ACT has a relatively small but significantly marginalised group of women within and exiting the prison system. The regimented environment of prison can leave women feeling disoriented and disempowered, and many women exit prison with few resources, significant debt and little understanding of what help is available. Navigating finances and surviving economic hardship is just one demand among many of life on the outside. Understanding who to talk to, how to plan for leaving prison and what support options are available once on the outside all contribute to helping to empowering women through that transition.

This resource aims to provide women exiting prison with local, accessible and reliable financial information.  It will also be useful for friends, family members and service providers supporting women exiting prison manage their finances in the ACT.

A financial resource for older single women in the ACT

Women tend to live longer and this means that the resources they have accumulated through their lives need to last for longer. Life events such as the death of a spouse, divorce and separation, a health episode, or acquiring a disability are also more likely to have a financial impact on older single women. Unfortunately, research suggests that single older women can be poorer than their male counterparts, less able to maintain home ownership, and less able to compete in the private rental market. These challenges can be due to having spent less time throughout their lives in paid employment due to having taken time out to care for children and others, having earned less during paid employment due to lower wages and reliance on part-time work, and to therefore having fewer superannuation funds upon retirement.

This resource aims to provide single older women with local, accessible and reliable financial information. It will also be useful for friends, family members and service providers supporting older women manage their finances in the ACT.

If you require any of these resources in an alternate format please contact WCHM at admin@wchm.org.au or on 6290 2166.