The Guardian • Issue #2099

HALF THE SKY

Domestic Violence: Labor doesn’t care

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2099
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Anthony Albanese recently announced a five thousand dollar “leaving violence payment,” showing that Labor is completely unwilling to provide the services that domestic violence survivors sorely need. The payment is a total of $925 million that could be invested in frontline services which would provide real support in enabling domestic violence survivors to escape violence, and set them up to be able to live independently. Labor would rather give survivors a couple of months rent, bond, and some groceries, and have them fend for themselves, often with children.

How is a parent, usually a mother who relies at least partially on her partners’ income, supposed to be able to take the time to find an affordable rental, and then move out and support one or more children with only an extra five thousand dollars to make up for what her partner contributes financially? This is compounded by the fact that domestic violence often occurs when the victim is reliant on the abuser, and that disabled people who have extra needs and expenses are abused at far higher rates than the rest of the population.

The stipulations on the payment are equally absurd. The payment is only available for people escaping a romantic partner, so if a person is being abused by any other family member or by a carer, the Labor government is unwilling to give them any meagre payment. Victims can only access the payment once, so if the payment doesn’t go far enough and the survivor is forced by circumstance to return, they no longer have this assistance.

The worst thing about the payment is that the Labor government knows full well that frontline services, such as refuges and social workers, which can help survivors become independent are atrociously understaffed. Last year, Labor announced $169 m of funding over four years for 500 front line gendered violence jobs. However by the admission of Katy Gallagher, the Federal Minister for Women, only 30 roles have been filled. She places the blame on the States and Territories for not being able to find people to fill the roles. However the salaries are towards the bottom end for social workers. How does Labor expect to attract people with an uncompetitive salary, and why aren’t they putting the money for the payment into attracting desperately needed frontline workers? There would even be money left over to put into preventative measures, such as interventions into the sexist attitudes of men and boys that perpetuate violence and education on gendered issues, along with cost-of-living relief, which has been demonstrated to lower all forms of violent crime, domestic violence included.

Labor’s refusal to act on domestic violence proves that only under socialism will we be able to fight domestic violence. Under capitalism, working class women have no input into the policies that can be life or death for them, and Labor has shown that supposedly social democratic parties will not even try to act in their interests, or even the interests of the working class in general. Women’s emancipation can only come from the working class.

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