back to top

“Thousands Of Women In Danger” Without Billions More In Funding To Tackle Domestic Violence, Advocates Say

“Our federal government will spend $50 billion on submarines but both parties seem to want a standing ovation for announcing a fraction of what's needed to keep women safe from family violence."

Posted on

The federal government is leaving "thousands of women in danger" by failing to adequately fund domestic violence services, advocates say.

Julian Smith / AAPIMAGE

The chief executive of Fair Agenda, an independent community organisation that fights for equal rights for women, Renee Carr, told BuzzFeed News 160,000 people are turned away from Community Legal Centres every year, including women affected by family violence.

“There are more women seeking refuges than the refuges are funded to take. “Women in some parts of Australia can’t access Family Violence Prevention Legal Services simply because of where they live,” she said.

Carr says the government could learn from Victoria’s example and address gaps in tackling domestic violence by upping its funding to $4 billion over two years.

“Victoria recognised that it would take $572 million to address massive service and system gaps in just one state. Most of the key family violence services rely on joint federal and state funding to operate,” Carr told BuzzFeed News.

The Coalition’s minister for women, Michaelia Cash, said the government has “shown national leadership” in taking action against domestic violence.

Getty

The Coalition has made two $100 million announcements over the past eight months including $21 million for specific measures to assist Indigenous women and communities.

Cash said the government has also provided $230 million over two years to states and territories under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness with funding priority given to frontline services focusing on women and children experiencing domestic violence.

“This is the first time a government has prioritised women and children experiencing domestic violence in homelessness funding,” she said.

But Labor's family violence spokesperson Terri Butler said the Coalition has made it harder for women to find help because they have under-funded counselling, cut legal services and failed to provide enough funding for homelessness.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

“The Liberals have cut frontline services for women experiencing family and domestic violence – like their $24 million in cuts to community legal centres, their $15 million in cuts to legal aid, and their cuts of $44 million per year to the capital expenditure component of homelessness funding,” Butler said.

Labor last year announced $75 million for frontline legal services, Safe at Home Grants and research on mapping perpetrator interactions, and last week committed a further $65 million, most of which is earmarked for sexual assault and violence counselling service 1800 RESPECT.

Butler told BuzzFeed News 1800 RESPECT did not have sufficient funding to meet existing demand.

“We want to increase the funding per year and also commit to providing it to the end of the National Plan, which is a longer period than most government service agreements.”

Address Housing chief executive Melissa Brooks works to provide affordable housing to women and children who have experienced domestic violence and says the Coalition’s recent promises mostly refer to “stuff that was already budgeted for”.

Tracey Nearmy / AAPIMAGE

Brooks says a big priority for whoever takes office in July should be family violence prevention legal services in Aboriginal communities and housing affordability.

“We know that Aboriginal women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised and 10 times more likely to be killed so in terms of marginal impact that is the best place governments can spend.”

Another issue that would assist women and families fleeing violence is affordable housing.

“No one can afford to house a family on a single income anywhere in Sydney so housing that people can actually afford to live in has to be considered essential funding."

Address Housing received capital funding to buy another 10 properties this year for long-term social housing.

“For those families those properties are the world - we are just as much victims of this crazy housing market,” she said. “There are all these buildings going up in Sydney with no requirement that it be affordable and we know how cheaply we could really solve what is an incredibly complex entrenched social problem if we had some pretty basic social concessions.”

Domestic Violence NSW chief executive Moo Baulch said the current election pledges could not pay for a “well-coordinated frontline response”.

Randwick Council / PR IMAGE

“From what I’ve seen of both the ALP and Coalition promises they are nowhere near enough,” she said.

Affordable housing is critical for women who wanted to “start their lives again and recover from the violence and the trauma”, she said.

“The knock on effect of that is of course what to do with these men, particularly those who want to change and we don’t have enough men’s behaviour programs in NSW as well as where we are going to house these men who are removed from the home and left homeless.”

Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Promoted