Unfortunately, in domestic violence situations, it can be the case that the perpetrator may take the victim’s identification documents and/or prevent them from holding their own bank account. This prevents the victim from opening a bank account in their sole name and regain their financial independence.
In response, AUSTRAC has developed ways to better assist victims of domestic violence seeking to regain independence after leaving a domestically violent relationship. This includes allowing flexibility through the verification of identity process by allowing other documents to be accepted, whilst also taking steps to prevent fraud or terrorism risks.
Some examples of the flexibility that may be offered are as follows:
- Accepting reference statements from a reliable independent person that confirms the victim’s identity. This can be a religious leader, police officer, current employer or health practitioner etc. Such a statement will require the person to provide details personal details of the victim (date of birth, address, full name, etc), how they know the victim, including how long and a description of the current circumstances including if they are aware of any DV Order.
- Accepting photos of identification documents to open the account with time to allow the victim afterwards to provide the originals.
AUSTRAC has provided some helpful examples and further information about who might be able to provide reference statements on their website.
A victim of domestic violence needs both social support and legal advice so that they can consider their options with respect to their legal protections, including making an application for a Domestic and Family Violence Protection Order.
For social support, we recommend clients start by calling 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), or the Domestic Violence Action Centre (07 3816 3000) if they are based in the Toowoomba and Ipswich areas. These are free government-funded organisations that can provide valuable support and social services, including counselling and safety planning.