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?

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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.


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


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.


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Latest activity

Jo , 2615  /  signed 2017-09-22 19:14:32 +1000
Grace , 2233  /  signed 2017-09-22 12:00:32 +1000
Amanda , 2560  /  signed 2017-09-22 11:28:05 +1000
Jude , 4740  /  signed 2017-09-22 07:51:48 +1000
Amanda , 2048  /  signed 2017-09-21 16:33:13 +1000
"Women leaving often have no phone, no transport, no money and nowhere to stay. Abusers steal all this from them. Please consider the trauma they are in when this happens."
Margo , 2480  /  signed 2017-09-21 16:18:33 +1000
"Margo Rutledge"
Sacha , 2038  /  signed 2017-09-21 08:25:41 +1000
"As a worker in this area I have first hand experience of the difficulties facing women fleeing a dv situation. Being penalised for leaving is unfair and adds to the trauma they are experiencing.
As a society based on fairness and equality it is incumbent on all of you to ensure that this legislation changes and protects those who are at their most vulnerable."
Jane , 2042  /  signed 2017-09-20 16:41:11 +1000
Julianna , 2007  /  signed 2017-09-20 01:01:42 +1000
Philippa , 2203  /  signed 2017-09-19 20:13:38 +1000
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