Three weeks after the federal Womens Safety Minister Anne Ruston announced a $5,000 Escaping Violence Payment (EVP) Program, domestic violence sector organisations are reporting that the program falls far short of the promise.
It is administered through faith-based service providers who get the bulk of the money to provide services to the woman fleeing violence. Even the $1,500 cash equivalent component of the payment is consists of vouchers for essential items, available through major institutions.
Journalist Kathleen Noonan reminded The Combined Women’s Refuge Group at their annual general meeting last week that only Australian citizens and, possibly, permanent residents are eligible for the payment. Refugees and women on spousal visas are most vulnerable when facing domestic violence as they have no access to Centrelink and limited access to Medicare. The payment is unavailable to most classes of visa holders.