Leaving an abusive relationship is known to be made much more difficult if victims of family violence may feel trapped by their dire financial situation, including lack of cash to cover immediate relocation needs. As such, removing this barrier to allow people who wish to leave an abusive relationship is a critical issue. And it looks like the Government is tackling this specific issue with the recent announcement for eligible individuals will be able to receive a one-off payment of up to $5,000 “to help them establish a life free of violence”. This is welcome news for many victims in abusive relationships who have felt powerless to change their situation due to lack of funds to leave.
[Escaping Violence Payment…continued]
Of the $5,000 in financial assistance, $1,500 can be taken in cash and the rest used for goods and services, or paying rental bonds, school fees or other essentials necessary to establish a new, safe home. Women will receive the funds as part of individualised support packages that tailor assistance to suit each individual as well as connect them with relevant agencies for further help.
The Escaping Violence Payment will not be taxable or reportable income and will not impact on any other social security payments a recipient may get.
Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said:
“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.”
The payment is being rolled out as a trial for the next two years with the Uniting Care Australia Consortium designated as the service provider. The group was selected because they have extensive experience with supporting victims of family violence. This means they are able to help provide a “wraparound service” for women and their children, so they are well placed to support engagement with relevant other services that assist women fleeing abusive relationships.
Uniting Care Australia National Director Claerwen 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.”
Determining eligibility will centre on people experiencing financial stress, who have evidence of experiencing family violence, for example a referral from a family and domestic violence service provider with a risk assessment and safety plan, or an AVO, court order or police report, though these are not exhaustive. The payment is available to anyone experiencing intimate partner violence.
Applications for the payment can be made now. For more information, see Uniting Care’s page on the Escaping Violence Payment.
At the end of the two year trial, it will be evaluated to assess benefits, whether it is meeting demand, whether eligibility criteria are appropriate, the needs of specific cohorts, and how it works with related services.
Other forms of help
The Escaping Violence Payment will build on and complement existing programs offered by state and territories, as well as Australian Government support offered to women experiencing violence, including:
- Services Australia’s Crisis Payment for Extreme Circumstances of Family and Domestic Violence
- No Interest Loan Scheme for Women Experiencing Domestic Violence
- Emergency Relief
- Keeping Women Safe in Their Homes.
Private sector assistance
Most of Australia’s major banks have also implemented assistance specifically for those leaving abusive relationships. It is usually provided to customers of the bank, and often employees. Assistance varies but often includes grants of financial assistance as well. For example, the Commonwealth Bank may provide $1,000 Visa cards to use for accommodation or bond, $500 groceries vouchers, and a new phone in case a victim’s existing phone is being tracked.
If you are a victim of financial abuse or family violence, it’s definitely worth checking with your bank to see how they can help as well. Most of the people delivering these services on behalf of the banks are trained counsellors or DV workers.
Do you need any help with a family law matter, perhaps involving family violence? Alliance Family Law can assist you once you have chosen to take a legal course of action, whether this involves separation, divorce, custody arrangements for your children, or property settlements; as well as supporting you with any related criminal law or other legal matters through our network of referral companies. Whilst we are a Canberra based firm we operate in all east coast States and the ACT. Please call Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Alliance Legal Services is happy to support clients who can receive interest-free loans, by offering certain fixed price services (conditions apply). Give us a call for all details.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.
Read more on what you can do to protect your financial interests if you are suffering from family violence. There is also a useful website dedicated to explaining how the law and family violence relate, at Family Violence Law Help. You might also like to read our blog on enhancing safety in a home where family violence may be a threat.