Australia is looking to help survivors of abuse, especially domestic abuse, with new initiatives to help victims leave violent partners.
The Australian government is offering one-off payments to help people leave domestic abuse. Starting this week, victims can apply for a payment of $5,000 Australian (the equivalent of $3,700 USD), which includes cash and direct payments for expenses, including for school fees for dependents.
While women statistically make up the bulk of domestic abuse victims, all genders are welcome to apply.
The effort comes as eyes have been on Australia to address problems of gender equality, sexism and sexual abuse.
In Australia, a woman is killed by a partner every nine days, according to the Australian government’s data and reports on family and domestic violence. According to an Australian Bureau survey conducted in 2016 — the most recent one to date — one in six women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or previous partner.
A whopping 25 percent of women have experienced emotional abuse from a current or previous partner. One in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in the country.
The pandemic has made things worse, according to experts, because it has forced survivors to be kept inside with their abusers. This is in addition to a rising cost in homes and rent, making it financially difficult to leave an abusive environment.
The payment scheme has been welcomed by advocates, but experts warn that it does not address the root of family violence in the country. Experts in domestic violence have said that Australia needs a wider debate on the “blokey” culture that places men at the head of the family, as well as in top government and corporate positions.
Australia ranks poorly in gender equality on an international level, which also contributes to the uneven power dynamics.
According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, Australia is ranked 50th. The U.S. is ranked 30th. The top five are Iceland, Finland, Norway, New Zealand and Sweden.
The program is on a two-year trial, and is part of a recent $820 million women’s safety package. The increase in funding to women’s safety also includes an expansion of support systems, and building a reporting system.