CW: This article contains references to domestic violence.
One in six women in Australia will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions has found that the cost of leaving an abusive relationship is $18,000 and 141 hours.
From tomorrow, Tuesday, October 19, the federal government will assist with covering some of that cost as it attempts to support women subjected to violence from men. It’s part of a $1.1 billion package aimed at protecting women’s safety.
The Escaping Violence Payment was announced in the Federal Budget in May of this year and comes into effect now.
The payment is $,5000 — $1,500 of which is in cash while the rest is in direct payments to cover things like a rental bond, school fees, and other essential services.
It’s not considered taxable income and doesn’t impact other social security payments that a recipient may be getting, however, it does require evidence of financial stress and domestic violence to quality. This could be in the form of a referral from a domestic violence support provider organisation, a court order, or a police report.
The payments will be provided by community service network UnitingCare Australia.
Claerwen Little, national director of UnitingCare, said that the payments will help women to 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,” 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 payments are part of a two-year trial that will be independently assessed to understand the effects and benefits of such a scheme.
Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston said that she hoped the payments would enable more women to escape dangerous situations.
“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.
“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.”
This year alone in Australia, an estimated 42 women have allegedly been killed by men in domestic violence situations and partner violence has seen a sharp rise across the country during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
For more information on the payments, or to make a claim, click 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.