Is red tape preventing women from accessing the Escaping Violence Payment?

New data has revealed that almost half of people trying to access a social security payment designed to assist those escaping family violence are being rejected. This has led to concerns about what can be done to address this issue. 

The escaping violence payment (EVP) is a social security payment introduced in 2021 to offer financial assistance to help families set up a home free of violence. Under the scheme, survivors of family violence can access up to $1,500 in cash and up to $3,500 in goods and services, such as removalists, to help them leave a violent home.

Last month, though, the Guardian reported that data to Senate Estimates revealed that around half of people trying to access EVP are having their claims rejected. Between July and September 2023, 57,041 applications were made for the EVP, but only 29,437 were deemed eligible.

This data has raised concerns that applying for EVP is too difficult and the payment is not reaching the women who need it most.

“The most common reasons are because the eligibility criteria were not met, the service provider was unable to recontact the applicant or the applicant otherwise determined not to proceed with the application,” a spokesperson for the Department of Social Services said in a statement.

While “the applicant otherwise determined not to proceed with the application” sounds like a simple mind change, at SSRV, we know that there are many reasons why women fail to proceed with applications, and it’s rarely a change of mind.

Failure to proceed with an application is often a direct result of a difficult and complicated application process that many women, especially those dealing with the multiple and terrible issues arising from family violence, do not have the capacity to deal with.

According to the Guardian, a recent review into the process of applying for the EVP found there were difficulties in establishing eligibility for the payment because people did not have the right supporting documentation, such as a police or doctor’s report.

Some clients struggled to demonstrate financial hardship because they did not have a bank account in their name.

There are also concerns that the eligibility criteria for the EVP may be too limiting. It cannot be accessed by people experiencing other forms of family violence, such as elder abuse, visa holders and people who have left a violent relationship more than 12 weeks ago.

SSRV believe that, while there has been significant improvement in how social security law treats people escaping family violence, more needs to be done to ensure that the social security system is able to be accessed by people at the moment they need it the most.

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