Funding of $1 billion over five years to address domestic violence will go towards more accommodation for women and children escaping abuse and to support key programmes, Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced tonight in his third budget. 

Much of the money will go to the national Leaving Violence program, which offers people fleeing abusive relationships up to $5,000 in financial support as well as referring them to social services and safety planning. 

Initially implemented in 2021 by the Morrison government, the program aims to prevent victims of violence from becoming displaced and has been accessed more than 45,000 times in three years. 

“Violence against women is a national shame and it requires national action,” Chalmers told Parliament earlier tonight.

“We know there is more work for all of us to do.”

However many are still calling for new forms of violence prevention, in addition to a greater focus on state and territory front line support services. 

It is as simple as we need to get funding to the front line, and we need to get it there now.

The chief executive of Women’s Community Shelters, Annabelle Daniel, called for the state and federal governments to better work together to get funding where it is most needed, as quickly as possible. 

“It is as simple as we need to get funding to the front line, and we need to get it there now,” she said. “This will then allow us to create innovative housing solutions.” 

Under its current model, the national Leaving Violence program does not adequately assist front line services, with 6-12 month waiting lists for the service. While the funding from tonight’s budget was welcomed, critics said it was not enough.

International human rights lawyer Dr Buxton-Namisnyk called for “a more sustained focus on working in partnership with the states to really enrich that basis and make it easier for victims and survivors to live lives that are safe and free from violence”. 

She added there was a lack of focus on prevention strategies, and said the government needed to support the cultural change that would allow for a decrease in domestic violence statistics and cited the 2021 National Community Attitudes Survey, on young Australians attitudes towards domestic violence. 

“We should be investing in that education space, combatting attitudes that are permissive of violence against women,” she said.

“Statistics show young people don’t necessarily see this as an issue affecting their community. So there’s certainly a great need for the Commonwealth to be resourcing initiatives that go to those kinds of cultural issues and really shifting the dial.”

Main image of treasurer Jim Chalmers on Wikimedia.