The Family Violence Royal Commission report was a landmark moment and a turning point in addressing the scourge of family violence in Victoria. The 2016 Victorian Budget reflected the government’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the report, with a significant investment of more than $572m in family violence related initiatives. The funding will make a real difference in improving the capacity of the family violence system to support victims and in keeping women and children across Victoria safe. The VCOSS response to the initial funding announcement is available here.
VCOSS was particularly pleased to see in the budget additional detail on prevention initiatives seeking to address the underlying drivers of family violence, including gender inequality, inclusive of target priority population groups. Schools are also an important environment for fostering positive attitudes and relationship skills in young people. The statewide rollout of the respectful relationships program will help embed gender equity and family violence prevention within the education system.
VCOSS also welcomes the commitment to establishing governance structures for ongoing monitoring, that will maintain momentum over the longer-term and hold the government to account in implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
Initiatives at a glance
- $15.5m between 2015-16 and 2017-18 to drive and monitor implementation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations. This funding includes establishing a whole-of-government implementation unit and independent monitoring framework to monitor and report on progress against the Royal Commission recommendations. It also includes support for the Family Violence Steering Committee, Victims Survivors Advisory Group, regional governance structures and Aboriginal community forums.
- $5m in 2016-17 to plan for the development of 17 family violence services hubs across Victoria.The support and safety hubs will make it easier for people to find help and access a range of integrated support services.
- $17.6m in 2016-17 for family violence navigators. These positions will help guide people through the complex family violence system. They were a recommendation of the inquest into the death of Luke Batty.
- $28.5m between 2015-16 and 2017-18 to establish a multi-agency family violence safeguarding function and data agency. The agency will facilitate risk management and information sharing across organisations, to prevent people falling through the gaps.
- $10.4m over two years to deliver training and workforce development to assist in implementing the new Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework. This funding will also include support for the Family Violence Index to improve Victoria’s data collection processes and analysis.
- $11.3m over two years for perpetrator accountability programs. This initiative includes funding for men’s behaviour change programs, new monitoring and information sharing systems and specialist programs for adolescent offenders, to ensure perpetrators are held accountable for their violent actions.
- $1.8m in 2016-17 for financial counselling for family violence victims. Many victims of family violence experience economic abuse. Funding will provide family violence training for financial counsellors and increase their capacity to assist victims of family violence experiencing financial distress.
- $68m over two years for flexible support for family violence victims. Includes case management, outreach services and increased agency capacity to respond to L17 police referrals.
- $3m in 2016-17 for enhanced family violence crisis response. Funding will assist Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre to provide 24/7 helpline support and to respond to overwhelming demand.
- $25.4m over two years for long-term intensive therapeutic interventions for victims of family violence
- $61.6m over two years for the primary prevention of family violence. Funding includes:
* $9m to develop and deliver Victoria’s Gender Equality Strategy
* $7.8m to develop a statewide prevention strategy, in partnership with local communities, the community sector and victims.
* $21.9m to rollout the Respectful Relationships program to all Victorian school and kindergarten students.
* $18m for major and statewide prevention campaigns targeting key settings such as workplaces and local government.
* $5m for targeted prevention initiatives aimed at priority population groups including the LGBTI community, CALD community, people with disability, older people, adolescents, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people in rural areas.
- $3.3m in 2016-17 to expand specialist family violence responses for CALD communities. Services will be delivered by In Touch Multicultural Centre against Family Violence and other providers.
- $2.5m in 2016-17 for targeted family violence response services for LGBTI families.
- $7.6m over two years for early intervention initiatives in Aboriginal communities. Includes funding for community led initiatives to address the causes of family violence and training for Aboriginal people in mediation, dispute resolution and inter-generational trauma.
Future policy directions
- The state government has described the funding announced in this budget as a “down payment.” Effective, long-term change will require ongoing and sustained investment in future budgets.
- The government has also committed to the development of a 10-year Family Violence Plan, to be released by the end of this year. VCOSS encourages the government to work closely with victims, advocates and community organisations in developing and implementing the plan, and to ensure co-design and collaboration remain central to the process.
Banner and thumbnail image: respect.gov.au