Australians escaping domestic violence can now access $5,000 in government support

Parent holding child after accessed the Escaping Violence Payment.

For the 2021 Federal Budget, the government introduced a range of measures intended to support women in various facets of society. This included a $144.8 million fund for the Escaping Violence Payment, which has just been rolled out this week to begin a two-year trial period.

While the payment is keenly targeted towards women and children, it’s accessible to people of all genders who are experiencing partner violence and are either planning to leave or have already left abusive relationships. 

Each $5,000 support payment consists of $1,500 in cash, with the remaining funds allocated towards specific needs like transport, rental costs and buying the basics for a new home. These funds won’t be taxable or impact other government support payments. Importantly, payments are also not traceable and involvement in the program will be completely confidential.

In a statement released by the Department of Social Services, Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the initiative aims to reduce the financial barriers that many face when attempting to leave violent relationships.

“We know that financial hardship as well as economic abuse, which may involve interfering with work or controlling or withholding money, reduces women’s ability to acquire and use money and makes it difficult to leave violent relationships,” Ruston said.

How to access the Escaping Violence Payment

The Escaping Violence Payment is being facilitated through Uniting Australia, and to access the payment you can submit a request directly with Uniting. If you’re already working with a family violence support service, you can also ask them about the next steps.

Then, your eligibility for the payment will be assessed based on evidence of financial stress and domestic violence. This may include (but isn’t limited to) things like a referral from a relevant service provider with a risk assessment and safety plan, or you having an AVO, court order or a police report in relation to your experiences with the partner you are leaving.

To reiterate, while much of the discourse surrounding this government scheme refers to women, the payment is open to Australians of all genders over the age of 18 who fit the eligibility criteria.

Remember: this support payment isn’t a crisis service, and it could take time to access funds. For immediate counselling or crisis support, you can contact:

For emergencies where you are immediately in danger, call 000. 

Banks detecting abusive transaction messages

While a person may have escaped a situation where a partner is controlling their financial independence, other forms of abuse can still be perpetuated through financial systems. 

Last week the Commonwealth Bank announced its new system for detecting abusive behaviour in bank transfers via the CommBank App and its online banking. It’s essentially a development in a process which already existed where a filter system weeds out and blocks transactions with threatening, harassing or abusive language in the descriptions. 

Other major banks have similar processes in place, but CBA is leading developments in this space among the Big 4.

Over three months between May to July this year, CBA’s system blocked more than 100,000 of these transactions, and the new artificial intelligence model found 229 unique senders displaying potentially serious abuse. 

The bank is able to use this information to determine appropriate actions it can take. This can range from de-linking bank accounts from PayID so contact information can’t be used by the abuser, to extreme cases where a perpetrator’s relationship with the bank is terminated if they continue to breach the Acceptable Use Policy.

Head to ASIC’s MoneySmart page for more specialised support resources and services related to financial abuse.