The federal government has accelerated financial help for people leaving violent relationships, but more work is needed to improve the system’s equity.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth has released a report examining the escaping violence payment, which was introduced in October 2021.
The report found as of May, the payment had supported almost 19,000 people and provided over $89 million in support.
The average cash, goods and services provided was $4224, with 89 per cent of recipients being women.
While the average gap between confirming the eligibility of a victim-survivor and the receipt of the first cash payment was 12 business days earlier in 2023, changes to the system have reduced it to three calendar days.
However, the report found further work was needed to ensure people in remote areas, older people, the LGBTQI community and Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse communities could access the payment.
The federal government allocated an additional $38.6 million in the 2022/23 budget to increase service delivery resourcing for the service provider and lead agency.
The May budget also included $38.2 million to increase the number of packages of support.
“When I took on this portfolio last year there was a backlog of more than 4000 people waiting for their escaping violence payment claims to be processed,” Ms Rishworth said.
“Wait times were as high as 33 business days from submission to commencement of casework and initial payment. This was unacceptable.”
She expected more people would now get access to timely support.
“Women and children experiencing violence should not be forced to remain in unsafe situations due to financial barriers,” the minister said.
In Australia, one in two women has experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime and one in three has experienced violence by a partner, other known person or a stranger since the age of 15.
Violence against women and children is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children.
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