National cabinet agrees to expand payments to women fleeing violence

Headshot of Katina Curtis
Katina Curtis
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during the National Cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during the National Cabinet meeting. Credit: GAYE GERARD/AAPIMAGE

A scheme offering money to help women leave violent partners will be made permanent and the Federal Government will tackle online access to pornography and other harmful content as part of an initial response to the crisis of violence against women.

State governments are also working together on a rapid review of programs to see what is working best and look at coordinating information about perpetrators and consistent bail laws.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said after meeting premiers and chief ministers on Wednesday morning that leaders were facing the crisis with a spirit of national unity and genuinely looking to learn from what was happening in different jurisdictions.

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Too many women were dying or living in fear and too many children were witnessing violence, he said.

The Federal Budget handed down in a fortnight will include $925.2 million over five years to make the Leaving Violence Payments program permanent.

The program, which has been trialled since 2021, offers payments of up to $5000 to help women leave abusive relationships, along with referral services, risk assessments and safety planning.

More than 45,000 people have accessed it.

The Government will also bring in a range of measures to tackle extreme online misogyny and prevent children from accessing pornography and other harmful material.

The eSafety commissioner will be funded to trial age assurance technology, and the Government is planning new measures to ban deep-fake or AI-generated pornography and a sped-up timeframe to introduce legislation banning doxxing, or the release of private information online.

There will also be a fresh phase of the “Stop It At The Start” campaign running from mid-2024 to directly challenge violent and misogynistic material in the online and social media spaces where it thrives.

“This is a debate that we have to have as a society because it is having an extraordinary impact and I think that was a common theme of the contributions this morning,” Mr Albanese said after the meeting.

Leaders also agreed to undertake work to address high-risk perpetrators and serial offenders, including better information-sharing about offenders between jurisdictions.

Police ministers and attorneys-general have also been tasked with developing options to respond to serial offenders. They will report back in the next quarter.

The emergency national cabinet meeting ran longer than anticipated on Wednesday morning as each leader shared what their state was doing.

“The jurisdictions were keen to learn off each other, to learn off best practice what has worked. Where something has worked, let’s replicate it; where things aren’t working, let’s change it,” Mr Albanese said.

Asked if Australians would be satisfied with the outcomes of the emergency meeting, the Prime Minister said it was a step forward.

“Can we be satisfied when a woman’s losing her life on average every four days? Of course not,” he said.

“I’ll tell you when I’ll be satisfied. I’ll be satisfied when we eliminate this as an issue. When we’re not talking about this is an issue, when women are not feeling as though they have to mobilise in rallies.

“I’ll be satisfied when a parent says the same thing to their daughter that they say to their son when they go out at night – not ‘How are you getting home from the train station?’, ‘How are you getting home from the bus stop?’, not ‘Stay safe’.

“This is a difficult issue. But I don’t think any of us should be satisfied until we’re not talking about these issues.”

Australian Institute of Criminology data released this week showed 34 women were killed by a current or former intimate partner in 2022-23 – one in six of all homicides that year, and an increase on the previous 12 months.

There have been 28 women allegedly killed at the hands of male partners or family so far in 2024, according to the Counting Dead Women project.

The AIC will launch a dashboard with quarterly updates on intimate partner deaths in the middle of this year, offering an official source of data.

National Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner Micaela Cronin also addressed the meeting.

She was pleased leaders committed to further work and to meet again in three months, saying it was vital to keep efforts on the national agenda.

“We have a national plan, which is a very good national plan. But no plan in such a complex area can be a set-and-forget plan,” she said.

“We need to be constantly looking at what is emerging and changing and absolutely technology changes are part of that, and we need to be looking at what do we need to prioritise.”

Support is available from 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline in WA on 1800 000 599

Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491


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