‘False Hope’: Family Violence Program Could Put Women at Greater Risk, Critics Say | Scott Morrison

Vulnerable women trying to escape domestic violence are being offered “false hope” by a government program that could potentially put them at greater risk, according to frontline service workers.

The two-year $ 145 million payment lawsuit to escape violence was billed as a one-time payment of up to $ 5,000 to “help women build a life free from violence”. It was announced as part of the government’s “$ 1.1 billion flagship women’s safety package” in the May budget.

In fact, the program offers eligible people up to $ 1,500 in cash, with the remainder paid in vouchers or direct payments to schools or rental bond agencies. During the month of the trial, frontline services are already advocating for who is eligible and how the payment works.

Sally Stevenson, executive director of Illawarra Women’s Health Center, said the “extremely expensive and time-consuming program” could make the situation worse for survivors.

“On the contrary, this program offers false hopes that practical support is available, but in reality it does nothing to really help women escape violence,” Stevenson said.

“In some circumstances, it can actually put women and children at risk. If women are misunderstood, they will receive adequate support and leave on that basis, and the expected support is not provided, they may well be in a worse situation, or even in greater danger – because, as we know, Leaving is one of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship, especially when there is little or no support.

More than 120 providers wrote to Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston earlier this month expressing serious concerns. They called for changes to the ‘inappropriate’ eligibility requirements, which include limiting payments to those who have already left their homes and those who have experienced violence from an intimate partner in the past 12 weeks. .

Sign up to receive the best stories from Guardian Australia every morning

Temporary visa holders are excluded and applicants must prove their experience to the police or a service provider as part of the eight-page application.

UnitingCare / Wesley was selected as the program facilitator after a “closed competitive process”. Stevenson said more consultation was needed with frontline people to make the program viable.

“We know how to support women fleeing violence: we know what they need – they need fast, flexible and liquid support,” she said.

“As such, the number of barriers within this program means that it is extremely difficult to access support. Certainly not enough to make escape a viable option.

Ruston defended the program, but left the door open for change, saying the government was “absolutely committed to getting it right.”

We have engaged in an open and constructive manner with the sector since the inception of the program last month to ensure that the right information is disseminated on the ground as well as to take into account the comments to inform the deployment ”, he added. she declared.

“We will also conduct an independent evaluation of the program to ensure that the settings meet the needs of women and others fleeing abusive relationships.”

Ruston said she had heard positive stories from women who had been helped by the lawsuit.

“We hear that people who have never had access to government support or other support services are contacting UnitingCare Network,” she said.

“While sobering, it is also positive to know that the program is reaching a cohort of victim-survivors who have yet to find the appropriate support and gives them the confidence to work towards a life free from violence. “

Labor Senator Jenny McAllister said the government must listen to those at the front, given the gravity of the problem.

“This program shows the fingerprints of a government that does not understand the experiences of victim-survivors and is more concerned with rushing a press release than getting it right,” she said.

The runaway violence payment lawsuit was part of a wave of announcements following claims the Morrison government was not doing enough to keep women safe after rape and sexual assault allegations have been raised in Parliament.

The announcements included increased funding for frontline legal centers and domestic and family violence support work, but months after its promise, frontline workers were still awaiting funding as the government was forced to “clarify.” some of the big numbers he released.

Source link

About Hubert Lee

Check Also

Bureau of Prisons rewards program under fire from local unions

Local AFGE President Aaron Mcglothin in front of FCI Mendota Aaron McGlothin The Federal Bureau …