Punished for fleeing danger?

Imagine having to flee your home because your abusive partner is threatening your safety. Now imagine that home is a rental property – and that you’ll be penalised for having to end your lease early. That’s the reality for many women in NSW right now.

Right now there’s a crucial opportunity to change that – because the NSW Government is currently considering changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. [1]

But here’s the thing – so far the NSW Government only plans to address this problem for victim-survivors who have an apprehended violence order or other court order against their perpetrator.  That’s despite a recent survey suggesting more than half of victim-survivors do not report such violence to police;[2] far less have the time and money it can take to obtain a court order.

Women’s Legal Service NSW and over 80 other domestic violence and community groups are calling on the government to expand the mechanisms through which victim-survivors who have to flee their homes can end their tenancy without liability, to ensure more victims of domestic violence can keep themselves and their children safe.

Can you help build the pressure on the NSW Government to make sure its reforms don’t leave out half the women fleeing domestic violence?

-More information (click to view)- 

The NSW Government has taken the positive step of acknowledging that the current rental rules are failing people affected by domestic violence. But right now they only plan to address this problem for victim-survivors who have an AVO or family law injunction.

This year Women’s Legal Service NSW conducted an online survey of domestic violence survivors who were renting in NSW. 98% of respondents said they had to leave their home quickly due to violence; yet more than half hadn’t reported the violence to the police.  Many because they feared threats to life and retribution if they did.

Instead, those women had reported the violence to support people like their doctor, domestic violence service worker, or community worker. That’s why Women’s Legal Service NSW, in conjunction with Domestic Violence NSW and over 80 other groups have issued a call for the NSW Government to ensure that victim-survivors who have had to flee their homes aren’t punished for acting for their own safety, if they can provide a statutory declaration from a “competent person” such as a doctor, family violence worker, or community access worker attesting to the reasons for their need to leave the property.

-References-

1. Victor Dominello, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation and Pru Goward, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, ‘New residential tenancy laws to protect victims of domestic violence’ Media Release, 5 July 2016.

2. Prioritising Safety at Home, 2017 Survey results about domestic violence and renting in NSW, A report by Women’s Legal Service NSW, August 2017.

Help us get to 1,000 signatures

896 SIGNATURES

To Minister Kean and Minister Goward,

We express our concern that NSW’s current tenancy laws punish victim-survivors of domestic violence who have to flee their homes for safety reasons.

We recognise the Government’s commitment to improving protections so victims-survivors will be able to end their tenancy immediately without penalty in circumstances of domestic violence. But we are dismayed that those changes would only apply to changes would only apply to victims-survivors who have been able to secure an apprehended violence order or court order against their perpetrator. This limited protection will leave many domestic violence victims-survivors who are unable to report to police or who do not have the time or money to pursue such orders in the courts exposed to financial punishment.

We strongly urge you to adopt the recommendation endorsed by over 80 community organisations to expand the criteria on which victim-survivors can end their tenancy without liability.

Signed,

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Latest activity

Debra , 4170  /  signed 2017-11-15 20:38:40 +1100
Marsha , 2440  /  signed 2017-11-01 14:24:00 +1100
"Some women need to flee when in danger.??"
susanne , 2154  /  signed 2017-10-30 22:48:45 +1100
"TAKE ACTION"
Elizabeth , 3044  /  signed 2017-10-29 10:02:50 +1100
Sue , 2191  /  signed 2017-10-20 10:34:05 +1100
"Victims of domestic violence need urgent and ongoing support, this includes the ability to flee tenanted homes without penalty. I support this change as the owner of three tenanted properties in NSW."
Janet , 2207  /  signed 2017-10-16 13:28:03 +1100
"Janet Taylor"
Penny , 2794  /  signed 2017-10-09 08:10:18 +1100
Vera , 2234  /  signed 2017-10-05 16:16:01 +1100
"Leaving the family home is such a hard thing to do but when women make this decision the process is so so so difficult, that that may be the reason they don’t leave."
Sarah , 55408  /  signed 2017-10-05 09:08:21 +1100
Paula , 2558  /  signed 2017-10-03 16:23:06 +1100
"All domestic violence victims need help NOW!!!!"
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