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Victims get financial support to flee domestic violence

Experts say a reform to the Family Law Act is long overdue
The support scheme aims to liberate women and children trapped in the terror and tyranny of domestic violence. Photo: Getty
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The federal government is coming to the rescue of women desperate to escape domestic violence with a new initiative that will pay out up to $5000 to help them establish new lives.

That sum will not be delivered as a lump sum, however, with assistance also coming in the form of direct payments of bonds, school fees or other support on top of $1500 in cash.

The Escaping Violence Payment is not considered taxable or reportable income and will not impact any other social security payments.

The UnitingCare Australia consortium has been selected as the service provider for the two-year Escaping Violence Payment trial.

It will also assist women to engage with other relevant agencies that support them and their children, including commonwealth or state and territory government-funded community services.

Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston says the money will help address the financial barriers that may stop women leaving violent relationships.

‘The clothes on their backs’

“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 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.”

UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said the network had extensive experience supporting victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence.

Its staff would in turn leverage that knowledge to provide a “wrap-around service” for women and their children.

Eligibility 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.

Women can apply for the payment through UnitingCare Network from Tuesday.

-with AAP

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