The Purse Project

The Purse Project is an award-winning project which evolved across three iterations, funded by the McNamee Foundation.

15.7% of Australian women will experience financial abuse in their lifetime. Financial abuse is part of the family violence story of 80-99% of women seeking support.

The Purse Project provides training for people working in the family violence sector and non-family violence community services professionals. It is designed to help professionals to deepen their knowledge and gain new skills that can help women to recognise financial abuse, build their financial skills and capacity, and improve their financial outcomes.

At the start of the relationship, I had about $32,000 saved up… when I left, I was about $7000 in debt…

Financial abuse is legally recognised in Victoria and most other Australian states as a form of family violence. Although many women know what they are experiencing is wrong and harmful to them and their children, they may not recognize or name  financial abuse as a form of family violence. This can prevent women getting the support they need. Workers who support them could help more if they knew what information, services and learning tools are available to get their finances back on track. For over ten years, WIRE has gathered information from women in Victoria about what financial abuse is, how it affects their ability to manage their finances, and what barriers prevent them getting back on track and building more security for the future.

Purse Project 1: 2015–2016

The Purse Project 1 worked directly with 79 Victorian women affected by family violence to build their financial capability and also provided professional education workshops to 65 community sector professionals who work with family violence services. It focused on unpacking women’s emotional relationships with money, goal setting and taking back control of finances. Due to its success, the Purse Project was re-funded in 2017 to deliver a full day training for frontline family violence workers, who can (and want to) do much more, but could benefit from updated skills, resources and information.

In line with the Royal Commission (RCFV 2016) recommendations on financial capability education for survivors of family violence (Rec 121) and also the development, refinement and co-ordination of responses by legal systems, police, corrections, child protection, legal and family violence support (Rec 107-121), the Purse Project 2 recognized the need for a wide cross-section of community and financial services sector agencies to know more about each other’s services in order to play a part in improving women’s financial security.

Purse Project 2: 2017

The Purse Project 2017 provided a free, one-day financial abuse and financial capability training workshop to 163 workers in the family violence sector. Workshops were held at ten locations in Melbourne and regional Victoria between June and October 2017. It was specifically developed for family violence workers, the workshop built knowledge, information and skills to identify financial abuse and support women to develop financial capability and make effective referrals to financial services. Participants also received follow-up support and secondary consultations to make the most out of the training.

Thank you for the great training, it was one of the best I have ever attended. After the training, I have had clients presenting with Financial Concerns and issues and that is when knowledge acquired from the training has helped. I have also been able to refer my clients to Financial Counsellors and spoken to my team leaders on the importance of how beneficial the training is for our colleagues.

This workshop focused on the following outcomes:

  • Building knowledge, information and skills to identify financial abuse, be confident and effective when talking to service-users about money
  • Deepening an understanding of the impact of family violence on women’s financial decision making and financial resilience
  • Making more effective  referrals for women affected by family violence to financial hardship and related financial capability services
  • Participants also received follow-up support and secondary consultations to make the most of the training. 


I loved that it was not specific to women and gender stereotypes, but instead it recognised intersectionality and LGBTQIA communities


The project covered:

  • Up-to-date laws, definitions, research and terminology
  • How to identify, name and explain financial abuse and its impact to colleagues and clients
  • How to identify a range of controlling tactics and behaviours used to perpetrate financial abuse
  • How financial abuse impacts women’s financial capability in the short, medium and long term, across different life stages, and at different points in recovery
  • What new tools can inspire, motivate and empower your clients to take whatever control of their financial situation they can
  • How to bust myths and unpack women’s emotional relationships with money
  • How to confidently open up the difficult ‘money conversation’ using the WIRE model
  • How to know who’s who and who can help in the financial services sector to make effective referrals.
  • How to be mindful of risky financial lenders and debt collection agencies.

Purse Project 3: 2018–2020

The Purse Project 3 sets out to provide community services professionals who work with victim-survivors of family violence with specialised training that enhances the resources and skills needed to engage with diverse groups regarding  building financial wellbeing. Targeted at community services professionals across sectors that are non-family violence specialists (e.g. alcohol and other drugs, health, housing, culturally and linguistically diverse, migrant and asylum-seeking). The Project will design and deliver a suite of three workshops to build knowledge and targeted approaches that can better meets the needs of services users regarding  financial wellbeing.

These workshops will focus on the following outcomes:

  • Recognising and responding to financial abuse (for non-family violence specialist community services workers)
  • Building the financial wellbeing of victim-survivors of family violence
  • Bringing an intersectional lens to your practice using a co-design methodology that enables the sharing of community knowledge and the good practice of community-based groups

In 2020 the Purse Project won Philanthropy Australia’s Gender-wise Philanthropy Award.

Further Information

For more information on The Purse Project, you can contact: support@wire.org.au



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