Domestic violence is helping at stake in the NT with minimum wage increases set to stretch budgets more

Written by Javed Iqbal

Women and children who escape tumultuous homes in a part of Australia with the highest rate of domestic violence may not get the help they need after this month’s ruling to raise the minimum wage by at least $ 40 a week.

The Fair Work Commission decision sets the salary at at least 2.7 million Australians to keep pace with the recent inflation rises, but in the DV sector this means that already tight budgets will be further stretched.

Susan Crane, CEO of Dawn House, a women’s shelter in Darwin, said that while her organization sighed in relief after having already raised wages to above the premium rate, she was concerned that the increase could deepen the DV crisis further.

“We’re working really hard in this sector and we deserve a pay rise, but the real difficulty is that we have five-year financing agreements and that’s a flat line,” she said.

“We get exactly the same [amount] money every single year. And that means that if there is a wage increase, or there is inflation or higher cost of living, we have to absorb it within a budget that does not grow from one year to the next. “

She said essential services such as crisis accommodation, counseling and food aid for women and children fleeing violence were at risk.

The changes take effect on July 1 and will raise the minimum wage by $ 1.05 per hour, but in the DV sector, where employees are awarded prizes, wages increase by 4.6 per cent but result in a reduction in real wages when inflation is taken into account.

Woman with short hair wearing black t-shirt in front of green tree
Larissa Ellis says more women and children are fleeing the violence and seeking help.(Delivered by: Larissa Ellis)

More than 1,000 kilometers south, Larissa Ellis, Executive Director of the Women’s Safety Service of Central Australia (WoSSCA), said there had been a sharp increase in the demand for crisis accommodation.

But after looking in the books, Mrs. Ellis had resigned herself to the fact that planned measures to deal with the crisis were to be scrapped.

She estimated that the pay rise would cost an additional $ 150,000 to $ 200,000 a year.

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Javed Iqbal

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