Prevent family violence
VCOSS welcomes $81.3 million funding in the 2015-16 Victorian State Budget that delivers on a range of government election commitments and further new initiatives, aimed at assisting the community sector and justice system to prevent and respond to family violence.
A recent dramatic rise in the number of family violence referrals and reports has resulted in overwhelming demand for family violence support services. This new funding will help organisations providing these services respond to this growing demand for assistance.
The majority of the $81.3 million is for projects in 2015-16. Pending the findings of the Royal Commission into Family Violence in early 2016, VCOSS also expects to see further commitments as the Royal Commission process continues and recommendations are made.
“Victoria’s historic Royal Commission into Family Violence will also give the government future opportunities to expand support for services and programs that address the underlying causes of violence against women and children,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
“Family violence services already face growing demand and it is likely that publicity around the Royal Commission will encourage more people experiencing violence to seek help. These funds will help services respond to those growing requests for assistance.”
Initiatives at a glance
- $36m over two years for the Royal Commission into Family Violence – this fulfils an election commitment and includes $16m already allocated in the 2014-15 financial year.
- $14m in 2015-16 for a Family Violence Fund – to meet urgent need for funding or unforeseen demand on services. This includes additional family violence access workers to respond to referrals from Victoria Police. It also addresses the expected increase in demand for family violence services as a result of the publicity around the Royal Commission, as highlighted by VCOSS in its 2015-16 State Budget Submission.
- $5.3m in 2015-16 to expand the capacity of family violence services – in crisis support, transport, sexual assault and counselling areas, to meet the urgent demand for services. This includes funding an additional 15,000 nights of accommodation for women and children escaping violence.
- $3.9m in 2015-16 for child protection flexible responses – that co-locate family violence specialist workers in child protection offices.
- $2.5m over two years for men’s behaviour change programs – and an additional $1m to expand the capacity of men’s family violence services, including counselling and intake services.
- $5.3m over two years to expand legal assistance services – including meeting election commitments of $2m over two years to a community legal centre assistance fund and $1.2m in 2015-16 for family violence duty lawyers at community legal centres.
- $1.6m over four years for Domestic Violence Victoria – to increase its capacity to advocate on family violence and build best practice in the family violence sector.
- $1.2m over four years to fulfil the election commitment to re-establish the Victorian Systemic Review of Family Violence Deaths – within the Coroners Court Death Review Unit.
- $900,000 in 2015-16 to pilot a program to improve personal safety in the home for women and children at risk of family violence – by installing CCTV and emergency alarm duress cards.
- $2m in 2015-16 to prevent violence against women and children – by funding three evidence-based projects targeting settings including workplaces, local government and populations including women with disabilities.
- $1.9m in 2015-16 to reduce and respond to family violence in Aboriginal communities – recognising the disproportionately high rates of family violence experienced by Aboriginal women and children, as highlighted in the VCOSS 2015-16 State Budget Submission.
- $2m over two years for services that respond to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people experiencing family violence – recognising the additional barriers facing people from CALD communities in accessing support.
- $100,000 for a safety audit of the Victorian Magistrates’ Court – to assess the physical structure and operations of the court, and ensure victims are safe and not intimidated.
Future policy directions
- The whole-of-government approach to family violence adopted in this state budget will help in the creation of an integrated and comprehensive approach to addressing family violence in Victoria over future years.
- The new funding for services including counselling, crisis support, men’s behaviour change programs and community legal centres will help address the overwhelming demand currently facing the family violence sector, which may need to be further expanded over future years.
- While the investment in family violence response services is very welcome, the state government can further combat the attitudes, inequities and stereotypes that lead to family violence by investing in a comprehensive, long-term primary prevention strategy.
- Women with disabilities face significant barriers in reporting violence and seeking assistance. VCOSS looks forward to the state government confirming whether theWorkforce Development Program on Gender and Disability pilot program is to be extended as part of the evidence-based prevention programs funded in this budget.