Nearly $1b to help women escape domestic violence

PM speaks after national cabinet meeting

Source: Anthony Albanese

Women fleeing violent relationships will be able to access $5000 financial support through an almost $1 billion package, as part of national cabinet measures tackling domestic abuse.

The package was unveiled after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met state and territory leaders in Sydney on Wednesday to discuss ways to resolve Australia’s gender violence crisis.

Under the changes, the federal government will provide $925 million over five years to set up the Leaving Violence program.

It will provide financial aid and support referrals to women trying to remove themselves from harm.

The measures are to be funded in the May 14 federal budget.

Those eligible will be able to access $5000 in support, with $1500 paid in cash and $3500 in goods and services, to be indexed in coming years.

National cabinet also agreed to implement measures aimed at reducing misogyny online, specifically targeting young people.

As part of the move, laws will be introduced to ban the creation and distribution of deepfake pornography.

A pilot program will be set up for age-assurance technology to block access for children to online content such as pornography.

There will also be a review of the Online Safety Act a year ahead of schedule.

However, Albanese acknowledged the difficulties of policing online content, highlighted by the battle with X owner Elon Musk over viral footage of the Christ the Good Shepherd church stabbing attack.

“We will be seeking co-operation wherever we can, but we need to take action and the online players need to understand exactly what the consequences are of a free-for-all online,” he said.

Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence commissioner Micaela Cronin, who spoke at the national cabinet meeting, said the appalling spate of deaths of women in Australia this year was the “tip of the iceberg” of the domestic violence problem.

“Like many of you, I wake up every day and pick up my phone worried about what news I’m going to see and the impact that that will have on communities,” she said.

But she said those in the sector were pleased to finally see a unified national approach.

National cabinet will meet again on domestic and family violence later in the year.

Albanese said tangible action was needed.

“This is indeed a national crisis and it’s a national challenge, and we’re facing this with a spirit of national unity,” he said.

“We want to change this in a way in which we all have to take responsibility because violence against women is not a women’s problem to solve, it’s a whole of society problem.

“Men, in particular, have to take responsibility.”

Leaders agreed to strengthen system responses to domestic and family violence, with a focus on high-risk and serial offenders, as well as information sharing about perpetrators between jurisdictions.

In addition, the Police Ministers Council and Standing Council of Attorneys-General will look at options to improve police responses to gendered violence.

The snap national cabinet meeting followed a recent surge in gendered homicide, with thousands marching across the country last weekend in protest.

Albanese said action to address misogynistic content online was needed to ensure laws could catch up to technology.

“We can’t afford to set and forget. We need to continue to look at what are the challenges and how do we overcome them,” he said.

“Parents are terribly concerned about their children and what they’re seeing online.”

An online ad campaign challenging misogynistic stereotypes perpetuated on the internet will be rolled out from mid-June until May 2025.

Albanese said while the measures agreed to at national cabinet were a good step forward, there was still a long way to go.

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

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

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-with AAP

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