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Domestic violence cases are at breaking point with women unable to obtain funding to escape abuse

A young mum has revealed the terrifying moment her abusive former partner threatened to 'incinerate her in an oven' and 'serve her up for dinner'.   

Lauren, not her real name, has come forward with her harrowing story of abuse and intimidation after the gruesome murder in Brisbane last week of Hannah Clarke by her ex-husband Rowan Baxter.     

Daily Mail Australia can also reveal how women under threat of death from their abusive ex-partners are being turned away from welfare agencies due to a lack of funding. 

Frightened women living in Melbourne's north-west cannot get access to vital domestic violence flexible support packages. 

Announced in 2016, the packages are supposed to provide up to $10,000 to victims experiencing family violence by assisting them to 'access support, move out of crisis, stabilise and improve their safety, well-being and independence into recovery'.

Hannah Clarke (left) and her three children were burnt alive by her crazed ex Rowan Baxter (right)

Lauren said she was unable to receive funding for security cameras at her house because the welfare agency had exhausted its allocation of packages.

 The young mum said she had been forced to move house in fear from her tormentor, who repeatedly threatened to kill her.

She said her fears had been compounded by the torching in Brisbane of Hannah Clarke and her children.  

Baxter doused Ms Clarke and their children, Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, in petrol and set them on fire during the school run last Wednesday, in a family violence crime that shocked the nation. Baxter killed himself.

In one menacing voice message left on Lauren's phone on Christmas day, the thug threatened to incinerate her in an oven and serve her up for dinner. 

'I think that there are massive gaps in the funding for victims of domestic violence,' she said. 

Lauren has been divorced for 10 years, but her ex-partner's hostility has reached dangerous new heights over the past four years. 

The deadbeat dad has demanded his critically ill daughter move in with him despite refusing to even undertake the proper medical training required to care for the girl. 

Making matters worse, the NSW resident has been using the law to his advantage while openly flaunting it with his out-of-control rage. 

'It was like a light switch flipped and then the verbal abuse started again, text messages, the threats,' Lauren said. 

With no Family Court orders in place, Lauren faced the constant fear that her ex-partner would simply take their sick daughter away. 

'Legal Aid won't fund a case if you're initiating it.  So if you're the respondent you can get funding to respond to a Family Court application but not if you are the applicant,' she said.

'So you've got to wait to be the victim and as the law stands if you don't have final court orders signed by a judge you can go to her school with her birth certificate and remove the child.'

Lauren said once a child has been removed the Family Court is reluctant to order the child to be returned until the matter is finalised. 

'I knew it was a possibility that he could do that. I never thought he would do it, he threatened to, and then he did,' she said. 

Under surveillance from the thug's goons, Lauren was forced to flee her home in country Victoria and move to the city where she thought her family would be safe. 

'He located us through the courts,' Lauren said. 

He turned up at the sick child's school where worried teachers tried to delay him. 

The violent thug lost the plot and police were called. 

A victim of domestic violence has been denied access to cash that would have allowed her to sleep better at night

A text message received by Lauren from a man she believed to be her husband under a false Facebook name

'The police took an hour-and-a-half to get there,' Lauren said. 

Despite the ugly incident, police did not take out an intervention order and told the frightened woman if he showed up again to call 000. 

'Two weeks later I get a note from police apologising because they should have actually referred me to a welfare agency who would normally check in with you the next day to ensure everything's okay,' she said. 

With evidence of threats mounting up, Lauren said police resisted applying for an intervention order. 

'They said you're not at risk enough because the perpetrator lives interstate,' she said.  

Court action was then launched in NSW, where Lauren was required to attend in person without funding for a lawyer. 

'I was left to self-represent and I had to go there, which is crazy because Victorian Legal Aid said its Federal Court so that if we would fund a case in Victoria, NSW should fund it, but it didn't work out that way,' she said. 

Lauren was unable to obtain assistance from welfare agencies as her abuser's harassment escalated.  

With her current husband locked in immigration detention after a visa bungle, Lauren was left alone to deal with the looming threat. 

At one point her ex-husband was found lurking about her house after driving to Melbourne in a hire car.  

Homeless and afraid, Lauren was not able to even access a women's refuge because she cares for an adult son with severe autism. 

Instead, welfare agencies supplied her with a link to a 'how not to die' website for women trying to escape domestic violence. 

'He told me he was going to burn me alive in an oven. He was going to cremate me,' she said. 

An intervention order was finally issued last month by a magistrate following months of torment. 

But Lauren has little faith in a system she believes is stacked against her. 

'More women will burn,' she said. 

Brisbane mother Hannah Clarke wrote that she was a 'survivor not a victim' in one of her final social media posts

Founder of the National Homeless Collective Donna Stolzenberg has having to help women at risk who cannot access government support

Founder of the National Homeless Collective Donna Stolzenberg said she was seeing more and more cases of women being turned away from support services due to lack of funding or red tape making support inaccessible. 

'Agencies refuse to pay bond and rent in advance for private rentals yet there is no public housing stock available for desperate families to rent,' she said.

'These women have almost always suffered financial abuse and control at the hands of their abusive partners. 

They’re now turning to us desperately seeking support because there is no one else out there to help them.'

Ms Stolzenberg said women living in certain zones could not access funding  from agencies that still had money because they didn’t live in the right catchment.

'It’s incredibly frustrating because we’re not funded to help people so we have to call on the public to fundraise so women can move to safety,' she said.

'We’re taking on the responsibility of the government yet they’re not funding us to do this.'

Ms Stolzenberg said it was seeing an increase in desperate women who’s ex partners have breached intervention orders time and again yet haven’t been charged. 

'Offenders are released to come straight back and cause more fear and threats, meaning women have to move or go into hiding yet again, or stay like sitting ducks waiting for their ex to carry out his violent threats,' she said.

Ms Stolzenberg lashed out at police, accusing officers of becoming complacent.

'They’re too close to the source and because they see the worst end of the domestic abuse spectrum (homicide), things like threats are seen as nothing more than a nuisance and aren’t taken seriously even when they’re credible,' she said.

'Police are letting the offenders get away with breaching AVO’s simply because they see so many cases of violence every day that a threat alone isn’t seen as significant enough. 

'The power to make that decision needs to be taken off the police themselves and made mandatory by law that all people breaching an apprehended violence order are immediately locked up for a minimum term, long enough to get the victim to safety and put extra measures in place including mandatory counselling for the perpetrators.'

Victoria Police spokeswoman Cathy Le said family violence accounted for the majority of front line police work.

'We remain absolutely committed to reducing the prevalence of this crime in our community and the harm it causes,' she said.

Ms Le said Victoria Police continued to respond to an increasing number of family violence incidents every year. 

'In Victoria police responded to more than 84,000 incidents of family violence in the year ending September 2019,' she said.

'That means police are responding to more than 230 family violence incidents a day, or one incident every six minutes.

'Police are cracking down on people who fail to comply with reporting obligations or breach orders and this impacts the number of offences we see across the state. There were more than 45,000 breaches of family violence orders – a record high (11.6 per cent increase from 40,633 to 45,334).'

Ms Le said Victoria Police was committed to ensuring its police officers are better trained and more capable to respond to domestic violence crimes.

A fundraiser has been started to help Lauren and other women at risk.