Financial services

Zahra Foundation to expand financial services for victims of domestic violence nationwide

A South Australian foundation tackling domestic violence will receive $5.5 million from the federal government to expand its services nationwide.

The funding will help the Zahra Foundation provide free, confidential financial advice over the phone and online to victims and survivors across Australia, a service it currently provides in South Australia.

Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston said the foundation would partner with existing services to offer a referral-based service.

“The first thing we need to do now that we have this money is to sit down with the Zahra Foundation and make sure we build a national framework,” she said.

“We will work with other organizations like 1800 Respect and the National Debt Helpline to ensure that this referral service is designed to be ready to respond immediately and appropriately to women seeking support.”

Anne Ruston says the funding will enable the service to be provided to tens of thousands of women across Australia.(ABC News)

Zahra Foundation chief executive Kelly-Ann Tansley said she expects the service to be up and running in the next fiscal year.

Ms Tansley said the foundation had helped more than 1,000 women over the past seven years to become “economically independent and recover from domestic and family violence”.

Ms Tansley said the low-key nature of telephone and online services “opens the door for more women across Australia to access this kind of support”, particularly women in the regions.

The Zahra Foundation was established in honor of Zahra Abrahimzadeh, who was killed by her ex-husband in 2010, and aims to address the financial abuse and disadvantage suffered by women due to domestic violence.

Portrait of South Australian man Arman Abrahimzadeh.
Arman Abrahimzadeh co-founded the Zahra Foundation in honor of his mother.(ABC News: Sarah Hancock)

Zahra Foundation co-founder Arman Abrahimzadeh said 13 years ago that his mother and siblings faced poverty, homelessness and isolation when they had ” no choice but to flee our family home”.

“When it came to creating the foundation in 2015, we decided to focus on financial empowerment because we experienced it ourselves,” he said.

“And we know that to this day, women are fleeing abusive environments, having no control over their finances and having their independence taken away.”