Lena Overcomes Financial Abuse


Lena*, an Afghan immigrant who experienced family violence and financial abuse, experienced huge challenges when her ex-partner wrongly used her small daycare business income to get two car loans from a car finance company. The loans were taken out in Lena’s name without showing she could afford them. Some of her gold jewelry had been sold to pay down the loans.

After Lena separated from her partner, she could not afford ongoing loan repayments. She was contacted regularly by the car finance company causing her additional stress and anxiety. Lena was admitted to the hospital and referred to financial counselling by Monash Health.

The car finance company failed to take note of obvious signs of financial abuse including that her ex-partner was using one of the cars for an Uber driving business.

Battling with language barriers and getting help for mental health issues caused by stress and anxiety, Lena’s challenging situation was made worse by legal issues and financial demands much higher than her small Centrelink income.

*Not her real name or photo


South East Community Links provided assistance through a financial counsellor who analysed Lena’s financial situation and challenged the car finance company’s incorrect handling of the loan approvals. Despite resistance and the company’s refusal to forgive the debt, SECL filed a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). This resulted in Lena being able to sell the car privately and negotiate a part of the loan debt to be waived by the finance company. Our team also supported Lena with negotiating a waiver of a fine and a accessing utility relief grant.


Achieved financial relief

Lena sold the car privately, leading to the car finance company waiving around $9,000 of her remaining debt.

Provided legal assistance

Our financial counsellor assisted during Lena’s custody dispute and secured the dismissal of a separate $450 driving fine by Fines Victoria.

Maintained possession

Lena kept her family car, preserving a level of financial stability.

Received utility grant

Lena was granted a utility relief grant and set up manageable payment plans.

Financial Counselling is supported by the Victorian Government and the Australian Government.