Australia

Women escaping domestic violence to get access to $5,000 payments from this week

The Escaping Violence Payment was announced in the May budget as part of a $1.1 billion women’s safety package of programs.

One in six women experiences partner violence in Australia, compared to one in 17 men, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

One in six women and one in ten men also experience abuse before the age of 15.

The payment is not considered taxable or reportable income, and will not impact any other social security payments a recipient may be getting.

Eligibility includes financial stress and evidence of domestic violence, which includes, but is not limited to, a referral from a family and domestic violence service provider with a risk assessment and safety plan, an AVO, court order, or a police report.

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Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the payments will help address the financial barriers that may stop women leaving violent relationships.

“We know that financial hardship as well as economic abuse, which may involve interfering with work or controlling or withholding money, reduces women’s ability to acquire and use money and makes it difficult to leave violent relationships,” she said in a statement on Sunday.

“The payments will assist people who need financial support to leave. We know the size of the house a woman is fleeing doesn’t matter – often she bundles the kids into the car, maybe the dog too and they leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.”

UnitingCare Australia national director Claerwen Little said the payment will help women to access some of the essentials needed to create a safe home for themselves and their children.

“The UnitingCare Network has extensive experience supporting victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence and staff would leverage that knowledge to provide a wrap-around service for women and their children,” Ms Little said.

“We believe that all people, especially women and their children, have the right to live freely and without fear, and this payment is an important step forward to ending violence against women and their children.”

The two-year trial will be independently evaluated to assess the benefit of the payment, including demand, eligibility criteria, needs of specific cohorts, and how it works with related services.

It comes days after pregnant mother-of-two Michelle Darragh, 32, was found dead inside a suburban Melbourne home, with her former partner taken to hospital under police guard.

Earlier this month, another pregnant woman, Janet Dweh, a 36-year-old refugee from Liberia, was found dead inside her home in Perth’s northern suburbs.

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The Red Heart Campaign, which “tracks every known Australian woman and child killed as a result of murder, manslaughter or neglect”, estimates 42 women have allegedly been killed due to violence in Australia this year.

Across Australia, many states and territories have reported large increases in the number of domestic violence cases during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Women’s rights activists expect calls for help to rise as restrictions ease in NSW and Victoria, allowing the removal of barriers that prevent women seeking help.

For more information on how to apply for the Escaping Violence Paymentclick here.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

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