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How well does Australia’s social security system support victims of family and domestic violence? National Social Security Rights Network

Contributor(s): National Social Security Rights Network.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Sydney, NSW : National Social Security Rights Network, 2018Description: electronic document (56 pages) ; PDF file.Subject(s): FAMILY VIOLENCE | DOMESTIC VIOLENCE | ECONOMIC ASPECTS | INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE | SOCIAL SERVICES | AUSTRALIAOnline resources: Click here to access online Summary: Family and domestic violence is common and its impact is far reaching. It occurs across all ages, and socioeconomic and demographic groups, but predominantly affects women and children. Australia's National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children: 2010-2022 aims to achieve a significant and sustained reduction in family and domestic violence. Access to social security income is a critical component of that plan, and the broader strategy to support women to leave and not return to violent relationships. Moreover, social security accessed at times of greatest vulnerability can be critical to victims of violence re-establishing themselves so they may rebuild their lives and move on. Between March and June 2018, the National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN) undertook a research project to consider the relationship between the Australian social security system and family and domestic violence and to identify areas where support for victims of family and domestic violence could be improved. Primary research, comprising a review of NSSRN files (January 2017 to March 2018) and a survey of NSSRN members, identified a number of systemic issues and trends. The social security system’s response to family and domestic violence has improved enormously since the early 1970s, as have other community and government services, now including targeted measures to respond to family and domestic violence. These include numerous specific provisions in the Social Security Act 1991 (‘The Act’), A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (FA Act) and related legislation, explanations in the Guide to Social Security Law and Family Assistance Guide, procedures relating to staffing and protection of client information, as well as numerous other critical points of intersection. Despite significant efforts to increase support to people who are experiencing or have recently experienced family and domestic violence, some significant issues remain. The NSSRN research found that domestic and family violence intersected with eligibility and rate of social security entitlement across a broad range of payments and issues. In most cases, violence had been perpetrated by partners or ex-partners, but also by parents, siblings, adult children, other family members and carers. More than one third of cases involved a debt, often incurred without the debtor being aware they were not being paid the correct payment or rate of payment. (From the Executive summary). Record #5966
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Family and domestic violence is common and its impact is far reaching. It occurs across all ages, and socioeconomic and demographic groups, but predominantly affects women and children.

Australia's National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children: 2010-2022 aims to achieve a significant and sustained reduction in family and domestic violence. Access to social security income is a critical component of that plan, and the broader strategy to support women to leave and not return to violent relationships. Moreover, social security accessed at times of greatest vulnerability can be critical to victims of violence re-establishing themselves so they may rebuild their lives and move on.

Between March and June 2018, the National Social Security Rights Network (NSSRN) undertook a research project to consider the relationship between the Australian social security system and family and domestic violence and to identify areas where
support for victims of family and domestic violence could be improved. Primary research, comprising a review of NSSRN files (January 2017 to March 2018) and a survey of NSSRN members, identified a number of systemic issues and trends. The social security system’s response to family and domestic violence has improved enormously since the early 1970s, as have other community and government services, now including targeted measures to respond to family and domestic violence. These include numerous specific provisions in the Social Security Act 1991 (‘The Act’), A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (FA Act) and related legislation, explanations in the Guide to Social Security Law and Family Assistance Guide, procedures relating to staffing and protection of client information, as well as numerous other critical points of intersection.
Despite significant efforts to increase support to people who are experiencing or have recently experienced family and domestic violence, some significant issues remain.

The NSSRN research found that domestic and family violence intersected with eligibility and rate of social security entitlement across a broad range of payments and issues. In most cases, violence had been perpetrated by partners or ex-partners, but also by parents, siblings, adult children, other family members and carers. More than one third of cases involved a debt, often incurred without the debtor being aware they were not being paid the correct payment or rate of payment. (From the Executive summary). Record #5966