As the COVID-19 lockdown sends reports of domestic violence soaring, victim advocates have slammed changes they say will put additional obstacles in the path of those fleeing abusers.
The changes, announced without warning less than a week ago, put the onus of evidence-gathering on the victim, a reversal of the previous and long-standing protocol.
The current scheme has been coordinated by the state government’s Victim Services department and allows individuals to lodge applications for compensation within a set time limit.
The department – with support of advocacy services – then collects evidence to support their claims.
The new system will mean the survivor will have to collect all the evidence needed for their claim before submitting their request.
“We are concerned that many victim-survivors will miss out on compensation because collecting their own evidence is simply too burdensome,” Domestic Violence NSW spokesperson Renata Field told AAP on Saturday.
Ms Field said they fear the changes will exacerbate trauma if a person is rejected for not providing enough information or could enhance financial barriers already faced by many due to COVID-19.
“We’ve heard from them (Victim Services) it’s about speeding up the process to deliver support faster but that’s not what’s going to happen.
“It’s going to affect those who are already marginalised and widen the gap between the haves and have nots.
– with AAP