Australian Government Unveils Trial Aid Program for Women Escaping Domestic Violence

October 16, 2021 Updated: October 16, 2021

SYDNEY, Australia—Women escaping violent relationships will be eligible for one-off federal welfare payments of up to $5,000.

The assistance, which is available from Tuesday, will come in the form of $1,500 cash and the remainder in goods and services or direct payments of bonds, school fees, or other support to help establish a safe home.

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.

“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.

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

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.

If you or someone you know needs support, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline on 13 11 14