Dedicated trial to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women escaping violence

The Morrison Government is establishing a place-based trial of the Escaping Violence Payment in Cairns, Queensland, to provide specialised support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim-survivors to establish a life free of violence.

Minster for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston announced the Government was investing $6 million in the trial that would be delivered by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisation to ensure a culturally safe and sensitive service.

The place-based trial will align with the national Escaping Violence Payment trial which is being delivered by the Uniting Care Network and offers victim-survivors up to $5,000 of financial support to establish a home free from violence, with up to $1,500 in cash or equivalents with the remainder available for goods, services and other supports.

“The rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children are absolutely unacceptable and the specific issues that Indigenous women face must be at the forefront of all of our thinking if we want to see real and lasting change,” Minister Ruston said.

“We recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are often less likely to reach out for support because of mistrust of mainstream services following negative experiences reporting violence including misidentification of victims as perpetrators, incarceration and child removal.

“Currently about 24 per cent of clients who have been supported through the national Escaping Violence Payment clients identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and this place-based trial will build on these high levels of engagement and offer more targeted support.

“We know that we must listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices to develop strength-based, community-led and family-focused solutions to be successful in eliminating all forms of violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children across Australia.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council interim chair Sandra Creamer said the initiative to establish a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander place-based trial for the Escaping Violence Payment in Cairns was a major step forward in addressing domestic and family violence in regional areas for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council have worked together with Minister Ruston to identify the importance of the many issues our women are experiencing when escaping domestic and family violence,” she said.

“This funding will help address financial issues to support and empower the women to create a safe supportive environment for themselves and their children.”

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said he was pleased that Cairns has been selected as the trial site as it would ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim-survivors in the region had access to culturally-appropriate support to get back on their feet.

“We know that financial hardship as well as economic abuse, which may involve interfering with work or controlling or withholding money, reduces a victim-survivor’s ability to access money impacting on their ability to leave a violent relationship,” Mr Entsch said.

“The Escaping Violence Payment is already providing victim-survivors more security when making that brave decision to leave any form of intimate partner violence and this trial will ensure the program can help even more, particularly those living in remote communities.”

The process for selecting an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led service provider will commence after engaging Indigenous service providers in Cairns.

The trial forms part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to Closing the Gap Target 13 that by 2031, the rate of all forms of family violence and abuse against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children is reduced at least by 50 per cent as progress towards zero.

Development of a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan, which will underpin the next National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children, is being led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council and will be the primary mechanism to deliver Target 13.

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