Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has welcomed the Federal Government's delivery of new one-off payments of up to $5,000 to help women establish a life free of violence.
"No-one should have to put up with violent relationships and what's more they should not be condemned to staying in violent relationships because they can't afford to leave," Mr McCormack said.
"Too often, we hear the experiences of women who desperately want to leave but are literally shackled to violent partners because they don't have the means to start a new life; they fear they cannot support themselves or their children - and that is not acceptable.
"Sadly, the Riverina and Central West are not immune to family violence and, in fact, Wagga Wagga has a higher rate than the State average so I welcome this payment as an addition to the Government's many initiatives to tackle violence in our communities."
Under the two-year Escaping Violence Payment trial women will receive financial assistance of up to $1,500 in cash with the remainder available for goods and services or direct payments of bonds, school fees or other support to help establish a safe home.
"This payment is available now," Mr McCormack said.
The UnitingCare Australia Consortium has been selected as the service provider to deliver the payments and will also support women to engage with other relevant services that support women and their children.
This includes other Commonwealth or State and Territory government funded community services.
As part of the individualised support packages, UnitingCare Network agencies will provide tailored assistance and engage with other relevant agencies that support women and their children including other Commonwealth or State and Territory government funded community services.
The Escaping Violence Payment is not considered taxable or reportable income and will not impact on any other social security payments a recipient may be receiving.
It is not means tested.
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. More information is available at unitingvictas.org.au/escaping-violence-payment.
According to Mr McCormack the Escaping Violence Payment will build on and complement existing programs offered by State and Territory governments, 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.
The two-year trial will be independently evaluated to assess the benefit of the payment, including demand, eligibility criteria, needs of specific cohorts and how it works with related services.
The $144.8 million Escaping Violence Payment trial is part of the landmark $1.1 billion women's safety package contained in the 2021-22 Women's Budget Statement.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au