The $1.1 billion announced for domestic violence initiatives over the next five years falls short of the demands on the sector, especially in terms of housing and perpetrators programs, experts say.
“The budget is proclaimed to be a women’s budget and there’s been a lot of announcements about domestic and family violence funding, and although there is an increase, it’s just not enough to match the demand,” Domestic Violence NSW Policy and Research Manager Renata Field said.
The sector had called for at least $1 billion per year to support domestic violence initiatives, compared to the $216 million it will receive each year for the next five years.
“We’ve seen huge amounts of domestic family violence in Australia; we’re seeing a woman who’s dying every week, children are dying. It’s really at epidemic proportions,” Ms Field said.
Housing is really the key to achieving safety for people who are fleeing domestic and family violence
According to Ms Field, the lack of funding is particularly concerning when it comes to housing for women fleeing violence.
“There’s really a shortfall in funding across the board, but what’s been really lacking in this budget is funding for crisis housing, short-term and long-term housing,” she said.
“Housing is really the key to achieving safety for people who are fleeing domestic and family violence.”
CQ University’s Dr Brian Sullivan said that though the funding for support for women was commendable, he questioned whether this year’s budget was a missed opportunity to hold perpetrators accountable.
“I think we certainly could have done with more in the working with perpetrators space, in terms of perpetrator programmes in prisons in domestic violence, focusing on domestic violence in when these men are incarcerated,” he said.
The government will provide $4.1 million over three years in funding for a trial to address perpetrators’ use of violence called the Coordinated Enforcement and Support to Eliminate Domestic Violence Program and extend funding of $4.9 million over three years toward perpetrator focussed services.
Ms Field said that there was a lot of good work happening in men’s programs; however, there needed to be long term investment in the space.
“There does need to be continued investment in evaluating these programs and making sure that they are creating change, and that the money that we’re spending on them is worthwhile,” she said.
We don’t want money down the milkshake drain again
Ms Field and Dr Sullivan shared concern that the $35.1 million to be spent on prevention campaigns targeted toward young people won’t be enough.
“It doesn’t cover the breadth of what’s necessary, we need long-term investment that is sustainable,” Ms Field said.
And, Dr Sullivan added: “We want to spend money on how we lift men’s attitudes toward women culturally across Australia.”
In the wake of the milkshake consent video debacle, there are concerns the money to be spent on a prevention campaign for young people could be misplaced.
“Well, we don’t want money down the milkshake drain again. That would be a an absolute waste of taxpayers money to absolute no end,” Professor Sullivan said.
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. Another helpful resource maybe Sexual Assault Counselling Australia: 1800 211 028. In an emergency, call 000.
Main picture by Lauren Ivory