Personal finances have long been a devastating tool in situations of family violence. But as Catherine Fitzpatrick writes, insurance can be used as a weapon too.

Take the example of one woman Fitzpatrick spoke to, whose ex-partner cancelled their home and contents insurance, and received a refund of the premiums the woman had recently paid. She did not know he had done this until well after he had threatened to burn down the house with her and the children in it. This is far from an isolated example.

Fitzpatrick argues systemic change is required in the way situations like these are handled. For example, we need to close the loopholes that enable perpetrators to cancel insurance policies without the knowledge or consent of victim-survivors, and change the law so protection against financial abuse is embedded in insurance products.

While some insurers have moved on the issue, it’s not enough and it’s too slow. There must be urgent action for greater protection against this kind of abuse.

Amanda Dunn

Politics + Society Editor

Insurance is the latest weapon financial abusers use against their partners. Here’s how we fix it

Catherine Fitzpatrick, UNSW Sydney

Insurance is supposed to be a safety net, but it can be weaponised in domestic and family violence situations. There’s a lot we can do to better protect victim-survivors.

Let’s not kid ourselves that private investors or super funds will build the social housing we need

Brendan Coates, Grattan Institute; Joey Moloney, Grattan Institute

Neither investors nor super funds are prepared to wear the losses needed to put low-income Australians into housing. The government should double the size of its Housing Australia Future Fund.

80% of Australians think AI risk is a global priority. The government needs to step up

Michael Noetel, The University of Queensland; Alexander Saeri, The University of Queensland; Jess Graham, The University of Queensland

Increasingly powerful AI is everywhere. But the hype is tempered by public and expert concerns – they want stronger regulation before it’s too late.

Personal trauma and criminal offending are closely linked – real rehabilitation is only possible with justice system reform

Katey Thom, Auckland University of Technology; Stella Black, Auckland University of Technology

A major new report identifies how a ‘trauma-informed’ justice system would acknowledge and act on the deprivation and mental health problems experienced by so many offenders.

‘Definitions are often very western. This excludes us.’ Our research shows how to boost Indigenous participation in STEM

Marnee Shay, The University of Queensland; Amy Thomson, The University of Queensland; Antoinette Cole, The University of Queensland; Jodie Miller, The University of Queensland; Ren Perkins, Griffith University

A survey of Indigenous people found almost one quarter had not heard of STEM. But more than 80% saw a connection between science, technology, engineering, maths and Indigenous culture.

Tattoo regret? How to choose a removal service

Katie Lee, The University of Queensland; Claire Coulstock, Victoria University; Samantha Reeve, Victoria University

Not all tattoo removal services are licensed, so you’ll have to do some research before booking yourself in. Here’s what to look out for.

The Three-Body Problem: Liu Cixin’s extraterrestrial novel is a heady blend of politics, ethics, physics and Chinese history

Josh Stenberg, University of Sydney

With an adaptation of Chinese bestseller The Three-Body Problem soon to air on Netflix, Josh Stenberg parses the novel and its many themes.

Cultural burning is better for Australian soils than prescribed burning, or no burning at all

Anthony Dosseto, University of Wollongong; Katharine Haynes, University of Wollongong; Leanne Brook, Indigenous Knowledge; Victor Channell, Indigenous Knowledge

What does fire management do to soils? We compared prescribed burning to cultural burning and looked at how soil properties changed after fire. Cultural burning was better.

The magic tricks and the deep souls of theatre, dance and music at the 2024 Perth Festival

Jonathan W. Marshall, Edith Cowan University

Across the program, I was struck by how it was often more in the act of putting on and performing the work, rather than their spoken content, that expressed political responses to our times.

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