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Leading Financial Wellbeing and Family Violence Advocate Cathy Oddie Calls on Business To Step Up

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

She's the women with the calm, rationale approach that quietly encourages business to do better. Now she is joining a chorus of other professional women, all speaking out and using their voice to ensure more is done to end the suffering and years of Financial Abuse Victims/ Survivors must face post leaving Domestic and Family Violence.

Cathy says bluntly: 'Businesses are just not trained adequately or equipped to assist victims/survivors who are all just so traumatised. They need to be. This is our workforce we are talking about and the scale of this problem is just not being addressed. Band aids will not fix this.'

"What hope do women really have, we get paid less than men, abused in relationships till we are made mentally ill, have our ill health used against us with victim blaming and mental health stigma, sometimes loose our jobs as a result, and then, are financially abused when we are brave enough to leave the relationship with sexually transmitted debt.

Compounding this, the very institutions who should be our safety net bog us down with re traumatising processes, often to the point of suicide ideation. It has to stop." says Cathy.

Cathy adds, "When a DFV victim is courageous enough to leave, the community and that includes business should be helping them not driving them into homelessness. Droves of women are now coming forward saying, it is happening to me too...."

Setting in place systems to get women and children to financial safety must become embedded in the community and the finance and insurance sector must be part of that solution.

I do know of some businesses taking this issue incredibly seriously and I am proud to have worked with some real trail blazers like HESTA, but I continue to hear stories of women loosing their jobs, not being offered support and frankly victim blamed.

Every single woman who speaks from a lived experience perspective for CXBank$ acknowledges they still suffer mental injury as a result of the domestic and family abuse. What we are not talking about enough is: it is injury. People don't just develop PTSD without sustained trauma.

Cathy's own recent experience is telling: It talks to systemic abuse. Even this year, years after leaving an abusive relationship and carving out a new career for herself as an advocate she had to call out a leading financial institution who wanted to sign her into a NDA not to disclose the abuse she had been subjected to or their poor handling of a joint loan.

Cathy said, "Even after all this time, it was a major trigger for me. The financial institution actually fed back to me in a NDA their perspective of the abuse I was subjected to and victim blamed me."

More needs to be done. And that is the purpose of CXBank$. It aims to bring together leading advocates working in the sector to bring voice to the changes necessary by business to help women be well and able to stay in employment or return to employment.

Cathy Oddie's Experience

She is a member of the Experts Advisory Group for the Family Violence Philanthropy Collaboration Project (FVPCP) led by Domestic Violence Victoria and the Melbourne Research Alliance to End Violence against Women and their Children (MAEVe) at the University of Melbourne known as Experts by Experience: A Consumer Participation Model for the Family Violence Sector. This work will support the family violence sector to further embed victim survivor expertise and decision making in the development and delivery of their services. This work is being provided with generous support from The Ross Trust, Gandel Philanthropy and The William Buckland Foundation and key input from Family Safety Victoria.

Cathy worked for Centrelink for seven years, before moving on to work in the Superannuation sector. After her role as Business Development and Policy Coordinator at HESTA ended in January this year, Cathy embraced the opportunity to become Monash Health’s first ever Family Violence Lived Experience Consultant within their Mental Health Family Violence Project Team.

Since 2007, Cathy has been a volunteer Survivor Advocate with Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre. This role led Cathy to make a submission and give evidence at the 2015 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. Her testimony resulted in two of the final 227 Recommendations, one of which led to the Review of the Victims of Crime Assistance Act which was tabled to Victorian Parliament in 2018.

Cathy is on the working group and is co-evaluating the DHHS Pilot Project “Family Violence Survivor Employment Pathways Program” and was on the expert reference group for WIRE’s “Teachable Moments” Research Project. In 2017, she was elected to the Committee of Management for Project Respect.

Cathy was instrumental in working with HESTA to have the Federal Government open up a review into the eligibility criteria for early release of superannuation and to have family violence included as one of these criteria. During her time at HESTA, she was successful in receiving a grant from Victorian Women’s Trust to improve the economic outcomes for women from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds through bringing together the organisations HESTA, ICAN, Fitted for Work and WAM to deliver a targeted financial literacy for women program using a narrative story-telling approach.

Cathy is currently completing Monash University’s Graduate Diploma of Family Violence Prevention.

CXBank$ is an online webinar style gathering bringing together lived experience advocates and experts in the sector discussing in three panels what must be done. The event will be broadcast on World Mental Health Day, October 10, which this year has the theme globally, suicide prevention. Each panel discusses the intersection of Domestic and Family Violence, Financial Abuse and Suicide Prevention. Tickets are FREE.

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