Half a Billion Dollar Pledge to Stop Family Violence
14 April 2016 at 10:35 am
The Victorian Government has pledged half a billion dollars to reduce family violence in Victoria in response to the Royal Commission findings, including an immediate injection $152 million in new funding to provide a range of emergency housing options.
The Premier Daniel Andrews announced Wednesday that the $572 million funding would be spent to tackle 65 of the commission’s most urgent recommendations over the next two years.
The Not for Profit sector has described the announcement as an historic move and an unprecedented commitment to improving lives.
The announcement comes just two weeks after the Royal Commission into Family Violence delivered its report which included 227 recommendations.
Premier Daniel Andrews has just announced more than half a billion towards family violence over two years. $572m pic.twitter.com/AS347WXvLF
— Melissa Davey (@MelissaLDavey) April 12, 2016
The family violence package includes:
- $152.5 million for housing options including building and redeveloping family violence refuges, expanding crisis accommodation, and funding up to 130 new social housing homes.
- $122.0 million to expand a new program that gives intensive support for children in their own home, as well as reform of the child protection system.
- $103.9 million for specialist family violence services such as crisis support and counselling to cope with unprecedented demand.
- $61.6 million in family violence prevention efforts which include expanding the Respectful Relationships program, introducing Victoria’s first Gender Equality Strategy.
- $25.7 million to work with Aboriginal communities in addressing family violence, including prevention and early intervention programs.
- $23.9 million to begin reforming the justice system to protect victims and holds perpetrators to account.
The initial housing and homelessness funding will be directed to a range of accommodation options as well as the courts and legal assistance, family violence services, Aboriginal community-controlled services, early childhood, schools and child safety services, and primary prevention initiatives.
The Minister for Housing Martin Foley said the funding of $152 million was in response to the commission’s recommendations that called for an immediate increase in crisis and emergency accommodation options to help victims to remain at home and to redevelop family violence refuges.
“The Royal Commission highlighted problems around the lack of appropriate accommodation for victims of family violence, with many being turned away from accommodation,” Foley said.
The $152 million package includes:
- $25 million over two years for accommodation for the homeless – this fund will support construction of 180 new units of crisis accommodation and upgrade existing accommodation.
- $21 million over two years to begin redeveloping existing refuges to the new core and cluster model and to provide 24 hour staffing at up to six refuges.
- $50 million for rapid housing assistance – provision of 130 new social housing properties and leasing for up to 100 dwellings.
- $16 million in 2016/17 to provide private rental assistance that supports access to private rental.
- $40 million over two years to provide flexible tailored responses that meet the individual needs of victims of family violence, including support to stay safe at home.
The state’s peak welfare body, the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), said that the overall funding was a “significant starting point” for achieving systemic change.
“This initial funding response shows the government has understood and is committed to bringing about the kind of whole-of-community, whole-of-government, transformational change the Royal Commission into Family Violence has called for,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
“The funding is significant, and importantly, the government has said it is a down payment. This is the type of commitment needed if we are to tackle the scourge of family violence and fix the system, shift our culture and save the lives of women and children.”
King also said the government’s response acknowledged the importance of working with the community and the sector.
“VCOSS looks forward to the community sector and the government working together on all initiatives, including developing the 10-year Victorian Family Violence Plan,” she said.
“We know that the design of a more effective family violence system will take time. We welcome the significant commitment from the government today, and its clear direction that co-design and collaboration are needed to develop a better system that will help prevent family violence and respond to those whose lives are devastated by it. We welcome that a 10-year plan will be developed and released by the end of the year.
“VCOSS commends the government on this first response to the landmark report of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. It shows a commitment to ensuring the important work of the Royal Commission is genuinely taken up as an opportunity to make real change.
“When we look back on this moment, we want to be able to be proud as a community and a society that we took this landmark opportunity to fix the system, shift our culture and save people’s lives, and the response from the government today indicates we are on the path to doing that.”
Domestic Violence Victoria’s CEO, Fiona McCormack commended the government for delivering on its promise on the Royal Commission recommendations.
“This significant down payment of more than half a billion dollars over two years is real action. It will make an enormous, substantive difference in the outcomes for women and children experiencing family violence,” McCormack said.
“As a community, we fund what we prioritise. This funding signals that ending violence against women and children is now a primary concern for our community.”
The government said that a Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce would be established, as recommended by the commission, to provide advice to government on housing solutions for victims of family violence.