Grim truth behind PM’s $5k payment

Anthony Albanese said the $5000 payment was meant to be an initial support measure Picture: Gaye Gerard/NCA NewsWire.

Vulnerable women are waiting for up to nine months to receive the federal government’s newly refunded leaving violence payment, according to crisis services, as the government grapples with criticisms over its snap response to a worrying rise in gendered violence.

After an emergency national cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the federal government announced $925m over five years to permanently establish the Leaving Violence Payment following a wave of concern over a spate of high-profile killings of women across NSW and Victoria.

The program, which seeks to help people with the financial costs of escaping a violent intimate relationship, offers eligible people up to $1500 in cash and $3500 in vouchers.

Macarthur Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service manager Tanya Whitehouse AOM said making the program permanent was a positive measure but flagged many women in dangerous situations were facing significant barriers when accessing the emergency payment.

“One of my caseworkers had a client 12 months ago who took nine months to get her EVP sorted,” Ms Whitehouse said.

“We currently have another one with a current application where we did a support letter in November 2023 and she is still not finalised.”

Twenty-six women have been killed in acts of violence across Australia so far this year. Picture NCA NewsWire / Aaron Francis

The one-off payment of $5000 was first introduced under the former Morrison government in 2021 but was revised in response to heightened concerns over its strict eligibility requirements, including the exclusion of people who hold temporary visas.

To be eligible, a person must be a victim survivor and have experienced a change in living arrangement as a result of the intimate partner violence in the past 12 weeks.

Ms Whitehouse said it can be extremely difficult for a victim to source crisis housing, decide she is leaving, or even become more aware she is in a high-risk situation within that short time limit.

“The time period is a significant one because you can’t expect a woman to make a decision and have everything sorted within three months,” she said.

“If you’re a victim of DV and you’re thinking about it and you’re not ready to do it, it could well be four months before you decide it’s time to go,” she said.

“You’re relying on so many factors. You have no control over finding a rental property.

“I think the timeframe should be at least considered to be extended to at least six months. The victim’s services timeframe is two years, so three months is quite insulting.”

The death of NSW woman Molly Ticehurst intensified national outcry over the epidemic of violence against women. Picture: Facebook
The death of NSW woman Molly Ticehurst intensified national outcry over the epidemic of violence against women. Picture: Facebook

According to a report from peak organisation Domestic Violence NSW, only 15 per cent of frontline services reported having their clients receive the full $5000 payment in 2022.

Data obtained this year by the Guardian showed that more than half of more than 50,000 Australians had their applications rejected between July and September 2023.

Domestic Violence NSW chief executive Delia Donovan said advocates and service providers were furious and “disappointed” following Wednesday’s national cabinet announcement, urging for a funding increase towards frontline services and intervention programs for perpetrators.

“We are disappointed not to see an injection of funding into frontline services. What will it take for us to see commitments of up to $5b to upgrade submarines? It doesn’t feel urgent or good enough,” Ms Donovan said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was “critical” that those needing help could access the emergency payment

“ I think overwhelmingly we need to make sure that any gap which is there goes towards the person making the application, (it’s) critical that people get this payment,” he told ABC earlier.

“I don’t like the idea that anyone who should be getting this payment hasn’t got this payment, to be very clear.”

Womensline: 1800 811 811
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service 24hr helpline: 1800 RESPECT
Lifeline: 13 1144
Family Violence Crisis and Support Service: 1800 608 122
Emergency/Police: 000