The Australian federal government announced last week that they will be providing women leaving a violent relationship access to a one-off payment of up to $5,000 to help them establish a life free of violence.
The “Escaping Violence Payment” will allow women in vulnerable circumstances financial assistance of up to $1,500 in cash with the remainder available for goods and services or direct payments of bonds, school fees or other support to help establish a safe home.
Anne Ruston, the Minister for Women’s Safety said the two-year trial program’s payments would “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.
The new Escaping Violence Payment aims to help address those issues so women have more security when making that brave decision to leave any form of intimate partner violence – including physical violence, coercive control and financial abuse.
Eligibility for the support “includes financial stress and evidence of domestic violence including, but 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.”
This is a good move from the federal government, and a step in the right direction to help women who want to escape abusive relationships.
As the first real spend since the federal budget allocation for spending measures for women it will make a difference for many Australian women and families.
And while money is only one part of the solution (as we pointed out following the National Summit on Women’s Safety last month), it is a welcome development towards real change.
The emergency payments are not taxable or reportable income, and will not impact on any other social security payments a recipient may be receiving.
Women can apply for the payment through UnitingCare Network from 19 October 2021.