• Linda Burney, the shadow minister for families and social services. (AAP)Source: AAP
Some women attempting to leave abusive relationships have been denied welfare payments when they need it most.
NITV Staff Writer

3 Sep 2019 - 3:15 PM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2019 - 3:15 PM

Labor MP Linda Burney says Australia’s welfare system should do more to help women leave violent relationships.

Data shows that Indigenous women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than the general population.

A report released last week found that Centrelink’s assessment system forces some domestic violence survivors to choose between homelessness or returning to an abusive partner.

The new research, by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), also suggested that Centrelink struggles to distinguish between genuine relationships and cases of abuse.

Specifically it found that the government agency has used reports of domestic violence as evidence of a committed relationship then reduced welfare payments to abused women.

Under legislation, a couple’s social security payments are assessed according to their joint income.

Ms Burney, the Labor Party's shadow minister for families and social services, said she would like the welfare system to respond more quickly and appropriately to domestic violence

 “I think Centrelink has a very important role in addressing issues around family violence,” she told NITV News, “in particular, recognising people that are leaving family violence situations and making sure that the rules and regulations are sensible when it comes to providing assistance to women living in those terrible situations.”