Australia offers money to help victims leave abusive partners
Starting Tuesday, victims can request a payment of 5,000 Australian dollars ($ 3,700), which includes cash and direct payments for expenses such as school fees.
While the payment has been welcomed by advocates, some say it does not address the root causes of domestic violence in Australia.
Mary Crooks, executive director of the Victorian Women’s Trust, says the country needs to have a broader debate on the “blokey” culture that puts men at the head of the family and in most positions of government and corporate power.
She also said questions should be asked about why women are being forced to leave the family home.
“There is a big moral, ethical and political problem here. Why does she still have to go through this extraordinary trauma and dislocation of her life when she was not, in fact, the one who did the wrong?” said crooks. “Why does she have to be the one to pick up the kids and animals quickly, and maybe not be able to find a place in a shelter?” “
Australia scores poorly on international gender equality rankings, which can contribute to uneven power dynamics in relationships and make women economically vulnerable.
At 13.4%, the gender pay gap in Australia is at an all time high, the government said in its budget report for women in May, as it pledged to further close the gap.
However, figures show that the pandemic has worsened economic disparities in Australia, as more women have lost their jobs or have had their hours cut during local shutdowns than men.
According to the government, two-thirds of women who experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner during the pandemic said the violence started or increased during the crisis.
The authorities are trying to fill the void.
On Tuesday, New South Wales – the most populous state in the country – announced its biggest investment in tackling domestic and family violence.
The $ 484 million ($ 360 million) package includes 75 new women’s shelters equipped with audiovisual rooms for court appearances, communal kitchens and playgrounds.
Annabelle Daniel, President of Domestic Violence NSW, welcomed the move, which she said would help address the urgent need for additional places of safety in rural and regional areas.
“We know that the number of people in need turned away is continually increasing due to lack of space. When we raise awareness about domestic and family violence, women raise their hands to ask for help,” she said. stated in a press release.
A fraction of the costs
In recent years, the Australian government has attempted to tackle domestic violence with a series of national plans, but rates remain consistently high and outdated attitudes have been difficult to shake.
For example, a 2018 survey by Australia’s national research organization found that one in five Australians believe examples of domestic violence are “normal reactions to everyday stress and frustration.”
Indigenous leaders say the plans have been so ineffective for their community that they want a separate national plan.
“Worse, we are often wrongly identified as the perpetrators of domestic violence and criminalized. We are terrified by the threat of having our children abducted, ”she wrote.
Crooks, of the Victorian Women’s Trust, said that as difficult as it is for white women to leave abusive homes, the prejudices embedded in the criminal justice and police systems make it even more difficult for indigenous women.
The $ 5,000 payment to escape violence is part of a Australian $ 1.1 billion ($ 820 million) women’s safety program announced by the government in May.
UnitingCare Australia, the agency responsible for administering a two-year trial program, said it was receiving calls and messages on how to apply even before applications opened on Tuesday.
But while the payment will go some way in helping women escape violence, the amount is a fraction of estimates of how much victims pay to find safety.
In 2017, the Australian Council of Trade Unions found that it cost on average A $ 18,000 ($ 14,000), including hiring a lawyer and a moving company, as well as fitting out a new house. with food and appliances. ACTU said the cost would likely be even higher in 2021.