Fri. May 17th, 2024

Originally published on Independent Australia on 9 May 2024.

The Federal Government has been criticised after failing to take firm action in assisting domestic violence victims, writes Melissa Marsden.

* CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses domestic violence

THE STORIES of women who have experienced domestic and family violence were thrust back into the spotlight this week.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has faced scrutiny following an undoubtedly ill-advised and arrogant response to a rally in Canberra on Sunday 28 April.

The Prime Minister became the subject of a key issue in responses to women’s, domestic and family violence by, as highlighted by journalist Annabel Crabb, making the event all about himself.

It is undeniable that whilst all members of Parliament and Australia must educate themselves and take steps to address these issues, the Prime Minister’s actions were indicative of the disempowerment of survivors in the face of political point scoring.

Federal Minister for Women Katy Gallagher has been unable to provide detailed answers to the Government’s response, nor shed further light on the appropriateness of the Prime Minister’s actions.

On last Sunday morning’s Insiders program (5 May 2024), Gallagher came under scrutiny for the Government’s failure to provide a comprehensive approach to domestic and family violence.

Gallagher ran through the Government’s talking points of announcing a $5,000 grant for people leaving a domestic violence relationship with an intimate domestic partner.

Admitting that people under the age of 18 fleeing domestic and family violence such as from abusive fathers, stepfathers or partners would be left out of the scheme, Gallagher justified the Government’s policy by arguing:

“This payment is not, you know, one solution in isolation of a lot of other supports that exist for people who might be in that situation…”

Gallagher went on to provide no information on alternative supports that would be put into place for people under the age of 18 experiencing domestic family or intimate partner violence.

Currently, one in four women has experienced violence, emotional abuse or economic abuse by a cohabitating partner from the age of 15.

Gallagher provided no further information on what these alternative supports would include or how they could be accessed.

The National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032 states that ‘women and children should not face poverty’. However, when asked if the rate of the single pension payment would be raised, Gallaher argued it had already been increased, refusing to answer whether it was enough.

Gallagher instead argued that the Government had already increased access to the payment and referred to the Commonwealth rent assistance payment to achieve “economic equality for women”.

The Australian housing crisis has been dominating the public agenda with the Government arguing domestic and family violence is a central part of its response.

The National Plan outlines the steps that need to be taken to end domestic violence in one generation.

The plan recognised the critical link between access to safe, affordable and accessible housing.

The plan highlighted the need to provide services and support to address existing violence and support victim-survivors experiencing violence, such as crisis support and police intervention.

During her interview, Gallagher argued that $25 billion had been utilised by state and federal governments to increase access to affordable housing for women and children.

The Minister was unable to provide answers on how quickly this “affordable housing” could be accessed.

National Cabinet announced on 1 May that $925 million over the next five years would provide people with financial assistance to flee violent relationships.

In line with the Government’s response, Gallagher said that a range of processes and systems were in place but refused to provide any information on whether more funding would be in the budget.

When asked where viewers could find the payment and how to access it Gallagher responded:

“I think people these days usually search, you can search for the payment and it will take you there.”

Gallagher failed to acknowledge viewers who may be in situations needing this payment and were unable to simply Google the payment as suggested.

Survivor of domestic and family violence Liana Walker criticised the Government’s response, stating that it was not enough and asking:

‘…how can we make sure that the funds got to who needs them when it is so hard to even find support when you are always being watched?’

* If you are experiencing distress, please contact:

Melissa Marsden is a passionate advocate for social justice and a self-confessed political junkie. You can follow Melissa on Twitter @MelMarsden96.

By Melissa Marsden

Melissa Gillian Marsden is a passionate advocate for social justice and a self-confessed political junkie. After being diagnosed with with a life long, life threatening medical condition six weeks after birth she knew from the beginning that fairness and equality are notoriously contested and complex issues. Read more on my 'About Me' page.