Domestic Violence Services at Risk
6 March 2014 at 10:09 am
Social service organisations have warned of the the potential shutdown of domestic violence services and other programs due to uncertainty surrounding the State and Federal Governments’ homelessness funding agreement which is due to run out at the end of June.
Domestic Violence Victoria, peak body for Victorian family violence services, has joined with Chief Executives of the Australian Council of Social Service, the Council to Homeless Persons, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service, WRISC Family Violence Support and McAuley Community Services for Women to call on the Federal and Victorian Governments to secure funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH).
The NPAH between the Commonwealth and State Governments funds a wide range of homelessness prevention and family violence programs.
The NPAH has provided $209.7 million in State and Federal Government funding in Victoria since 2009 and is due to expire on June 30.
“Family violence is the main driver of homelessness in Victoria and the programs funded through the NPAH are critical to keeping hundreds of women and children safe, and preventing them from becoming homeless when they leave violent relationships,” Fiona McCormack, CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, said.
“These programs address the fact that too often women and their children risk losing their housing, their employment, their connection to schools and local communities following family violence. In light of recent events In Victoria, it is critical that we don’t lose the aspects of our system that are working well.”
Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, urged the Australian Government not to use the expiration of funding contracts on June 30 to deliver budget savings.
“Whether this is intended or not is unknown. However, in the absence of new contracts being put in place, services are understandably concerned,” Dr Goldie said.
"Services and payments to support vulnerable and low income people should not be in the firing line in search of a budget surplus.”
Jenny Smith, CEO of the peak body for homelessness in Victoria, the Council to Homeless Persons, warned hundreds of homelessness programs were at risk, among them family violence programs, and thousands of jobs could be axed from a predominantly female workforce.
“Ripping funding from homelessness services will result in more homelessness with women and children sleeping in their cars, in rooming houses and couch hopping,” Smith said.
“As well as an increase in homelessness, we will also see thousands of workers in this sector lose their jobs.”
The National Partnership Agreement also delivers programs to Aboriginal families experiencing family violence. The Aboriginal Family Violence and Prevention Legal Service in Victoria and assists Aboriginal victims/survivors of family violence and sexual assault.
“If funding cannot be confirmed beyond 30 June 2014, we may have no choice but to turn clients away from our service,” FVPLS Victoria CEO Antoinette Braybrook warned.
“This result will have a devastating impact on Aboriginal women and their children and is likely to result in further violence, disadvantage and homelessness.”
As part of International Women’s Day, all the parties are calling on both Victorian and Australian Governments to re-commit to a further National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.
“This is an opportunity not only to reduce costs that flow on to health, education and welfare budgets; but to continue to make a significant difference to the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable and low income Australians,” they said.