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In an effort to enhance the safeguards it provides to customers and team members experiencing family violence, Coliban Water has signed up to the Respect & Protect initiative.

The Respect & Protect initiative is a public awareness campaign that aims to encourage businesses to promote and protect customers and communities against financial abuse – particularly in the banking, insurance, telecommunications and energy sectors where perpetrators can leverage essential services to threaten victims or accrue debt on their behalf.

Coliban Water Executive General Manager Customer and Stakeholder Experience, Lauren McLean, said that Coliban Water is committed to supporting the elimination of financial abuse as a form of violence in Australia.

“In signing up to Respect & Protect, Coliban Water has updated its terms and conditions to make it clear the provision of water and sewerage, an essential service for everyone, is no place for financial abuse.

“We know there are occasions where perpetrators of family violence can use services like ours to threaten victim-survivors, maintain a system of coercive control, or even accrue debts in their name leaving them financially worse off,” Ms McLean said.

“This makes it difficult for victims or survivors to seek help, or to leave.

“By updating our terms and conditions and ensuring our team is skilled and ready to help, we are discouraging perpetrators from using us and our services to continue the cycle of abuse.”

Ms McLean explained that financial abuse can significantly impact a victim or survivor’s financial independence and economic security.

“Sadly, the impacts can continue long after they have left an abusive partner.

“We know it will take a whole-of-community effort to make a difference, and that this is just one small step of many that our business, and a growing number around Australia, must take.”

Ms McLean said participation in the Respect & Protect initiative was a natural next step after Coliban Water signed-up to Thriving Communities, the not-for-profit organisation facilitating improved cross-sector collaboration to support customers experiencing vulnerability.

“At this stage Coliban Water is the only water corporation in Victoria to sign-up to Respect & Protect, an initiative of social enterprise, Flequity Ventures, that aims to disrupt financial abuse and gender bias through better product design.

“In a sector committed to the wellbeing of its customers, we know we will be the first of many water businesses putting would-be perpetrators on notice that intimidation and harassment is not acceptable.

“Collectively, this is our opportunity as good corporate citizens and human beings to accelerate efforts through targeted action, education and awareness,” she said.

“It sends a clear message that we will not tolerate conduct of this kind and will continue to take action to prevent it from happening.”

Coliban Water’s updated Family Violence Statement, which outlines its zero-tolerance approach, is available at coliban.com.au, and information about Respect & Protect is available from www.respectandprotect.au.

Featured image: SewCreamStudio/Shutterstock.com

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