1 May 2024

Government commits $925 million to help women leave family violence

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Albo Women against violence rally

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese marches in the rally against gender-based violence in Canberra on Saturday. Photo: Anthony Albanese Facebook.

In the midst of an alarming rise in family violence against women and increased calls for urgent action, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that the Federal Government will establish a $925 million fund over five years in the May budget to assist women to escape violent situations safely.

While partner violence will need to be addressed through longer-term action and education, the Leaving Violence Program will allow those escaping violence to receive immediate financial support.

The government says it understands the insidious links between financial insecurity and stress and vulnerability to family and domestic violence and that, too often, financial insecurity can be a barrier to escaping violence.

The program will allow eligible victim-survivors of intimate partner violence to access up to $1500 in cash and up to $3500 in goods and services as financial support to make informed choices about leaving violent relationships, along with referral services, risk assessments and safety planning.

The Prime Minister said the heart-breaking reality is that there is no overnight solution to violence against women and children.

“My government is absolutely committed to making progress to end family, domestic and sexual violence in one generation through our National Plan,” he said.

“Today’s announcement builds on our efforts to ensure fewer women feel trapped in a violent relationship because they don’t know if they can afford to leave.”

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The new program effectively makes the three-year Escaping Violence Program (EVP) trial a permanent policy.

The government says more than 45,000 Australians have accessed the EVP payment since 2021. It says 80 per cent of those accessing the EVP were self-referrals and that without this program they may have fallen through the cracks of the support system.

The EVP trial will be extended to 2025 and will then transition to the new Leaving Violence Program under the management of an appropriate service provider with family, domestic and sexual violence experience.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth described violence against women as a national shame.

“Every time a woman loses her life at the hands of a man, it is a death that is one too many, and we know this is an issue that warrants our focused and serious attention,” she said.

“Research has shown us that financial barriers can be a huge impediment to victim-survivors breaking free of a violent relationship and we are determined to reduce those barriers along with providing other supports to assist those fleeing violence.

“We need persistent, consistent and unified action on this issue in order to create real change and this investment will mean there is a permanent lifeline for those people experiencing intimate partner violence.”

Minister for Women Katy Gallagher echoed Ms Rishworth’s comments, saying she is distressed and frustrated at the crisis of men’s violence against women in this country.

“This is a crisis, and it is a national shame,” she said.

“The Albanese Labor Government is committed to ending the epidemic of violence against women and children in this country. We have been focused on this since day one and have taken a number of actions to end violence and support women who experience it, and we know we must continue to do more.

“We recognise that a lot of the issues that women face can be improved if they have economic security and improving women’s economic empowerment will continue to be a core focus of our government.”

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The new program comes in the wake of a National Cabinet crisis meeting this morning (1 May) where all of Australia’s state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers met to discuss the alarming increase in gender-based violence.

A joint statement from the meeting says, “First Ministers are committed to stopping the homicides and achieving our shared goal of ending violence against women and children in a generation.

“The Leaving Violence Payment builds on existing measures being delivered to improve the financial security of women, including expansion of the single Parenting Payment, 10 days paid domestic violence leave, and investment in crisis accommodation and affordable housing for women and children escaping violence.

“The Commonwealth will also deliver a range of new measures to tackle factors that exacerbate violence against women, such as violent online pornography and misogynistic content targeting children and young people.”

Other measures will include legislation to ban ‘deepfake’ pornography and will add additional funding to pilot age-assurance technologies.

Anyone impacted by sexual, domestic or family violence can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Full Stop Australia on 1800 385 578.

If this reporting has raised mental health concerns for you, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

You can report a sexual assault by attending a police station in person, calling 000 in an emergency or 131 444 for police assistance, or online if the sexual assault occurred more than six months ago.

Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Riotact.

Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Region Illawarra.

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