A new, two-year trial scheme has been introduced in Australia to allow women and children who are escaping domestic violence to have access to a one-off payment of up to $5,000. All I can say is: fucking finally.
The Escaping Violence Payment, available from Tuesday, includes up to $1,500 in cash, with the rest of the money available for things like direct payments of bonds, school fees, goods and services, or other essential things that families need to create a safe home. The UnitingCare Australia consortium will be the service provider for the two-year Escaping Violence Payment trial.
Women’s safety minister, Anne Ruston, says the money will help address the barriers that 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 it makes it difficult to leave violent relationships,” she said in a statement on Sunday.
“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.”
The payment won’t be taxed and isn’t considered reportable income, meaning it also won’t affect other payments like Centrelink. Which is actually really great news, because it means recipients won’t feel like they have to sacrifice other income in order to receive the money they need to flee to safety.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I would like everyone to eliminate the phrase "Why don't you just leave?" from their vocabulary when talking to survivors of abuse.
— Eva (@evacide) October 8, 2021
To be eligible for the payment, recipients must be experiencing financial stress and have ‘evidence’ of domestic violence — which can include things like a referral, risk assessment and safety plan from a family and domestic violence service provider, or an AVO, court order, or a police report.
The new trial comes after two pregnant women were allegedly murdered in the past month. The Red Heart Campaign reported that 41 women have died by violence just this year.
On October 9, Michelle Darragh, a pregnant mother, was found dead at the home of her former partner after they recently separated. Earlier this month on October 4, another heavily pregnant woman, Janet Dweh, was found dead in her home in Perth’s northern suburbs. Police believe she was killed by someone close to her.
One in six women experience partner violence in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. On average, one woman is killed by a current or former partner every week.
The Escaping Violence Payment is an important step in the right direction, and could be instrumental in many women’s attempts at leaving their violent partners. But I’m wary of the way we continue to place the burden of surviving violent relationships on women. Let’s hope that in the future, we as a society are able to turn our attention to preventing men’s violence against women in the first place.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800
Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.