Tackling economic harm

Article by Good Shepherd NZ,
Province of Australia/Aotearoa-New Zealand.


Family violence is one of New Zealand’s most significant problems.

One in three (35%) New Zealand women experience physical or sexual harm from a partner during their lifetime, and when psychological, emotional or economic harm is included, that increases to 55% of women.

Economic harm or abuse is a specific type of family violence that causes an individual to become financially dependent on another person by obstructing their access to resources or independent economic activity such as employment. 

A lack of financial independence is one of the key reasons why many people do not feel they are able to leave physically violent relationships and why some may return to violent partners.

Established in 2012 as a charitable non-government organization, Good Shepherd New Zealand (NZ) has been working with its client-facing staff and other organizations to equip them with the tools and knowledge they need to recognize and support those experiencing economic harm and prevent it from occurring in their communities.

Youth mentors explore economic harm

Recently Good Shepherd NZ worked with the youth mentoring organization Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Zealand, who had never heard of economic harm prior to the session.

Good Shepherd NZ’s Economic Harm Advisor, Beryl Brogden, led the session and unraveled the complexity of money and relationships while discussing the importance of having financial conversations.

Mentors from Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Zealand who gained insight during the session into economic harm and the vital role they can play to prevent it.

Beryl said: “Economic harm is not something that people necessarily know about. But whenever I explain what it is, they start nodding and saying that this is exactly what happened to their aunt or their friend. Once they know, it seems so obvious.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Zealand provides over 950 children, between the age of six and 12, with a trained mentor throughout its 13 program locations across New Zealand.

The session explored economic harm, the importance of healthy financial relationships for young people, and the important role mentors can play to encourage healthy conversations about money.

To prevent the next generation from experiencing economic harm, it is crucial other organizations, like Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Zealand, help raise awareness of the importance of healthy financial conversations in relationships.

Championing young people to promote safe and healthy relationships

Good Shepherd NZ has been working with Shine to expand its Shine in School program, initially into the Wellington region.

Shine provides a range of effective, practical and innovative services to stop domestic abuse in New Zealand. 

The Shine in School program, which is currently only offered in Auckland, educates young people to become ‘champions of change’ by promoting safe and healthy relationships.

Good Shepherd NZ has hired a facilitator to work with Shine to expand its program and support the team to develop and deliver training and resources.

The new facilitator will encourage people, particularly young people, to have healthy relationships and build social and economic resilience, contributing to the prevention of family violence and economic abuse.

To break the cycle of family violence, it is essential young people are given the skills they need to build healthy relationships and become a generation that stands up against family violence.