Budget 2016: Budget ‘Devastating and Dangerous’ for Women Experiencing Family Violence
4 May 2016 at 8:11 am
A federal budget funding increase of just $33 million next year to address violence against women and children will have devastating and dangerous consequences for those affected by family violence, Not for Profit advocacy organisation Fair Agenda has warned.
“The government is leaving thousands of women without the service support they need to be safe,” executive director of Fair Agenda, Renee Carr, said in response to the Turnbull budget.
“The Turnbull government said that family violence is a national priority – but [the budget] announcements don’t reflect that.
“The prime minister’s decision to leave thousands of women without access to services that they need to live free from danger is devastating.”
Carr said it was good to see new funding, but that $33 million was “woefully inadequate to deal with a national epidemic devastating lives and communities”.
“It’s not even a fraction of what the Victorian Government has recognised is needed just in one state,” she said.
“The treasurer has said that this government will ‘afford the things that need to be afforded’ – apparently keeping women safe doesn’t fall into that category.”
In March the Victorian government announced $572 million of additional funding to address family violence services in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
“The federal government needed to match that level of funding. That would have been $4 billion over two years,” Carr said.
The convenor of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum, Antoinette Braybrook, said a response to violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children was “tragically” not included in the budget.
“Violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children is at epidemic levels. It will cost the nation $2.2 billion by 2021/22. Its moral cost – which sees lives lost and communities destroyed – is unquantifiable. Yet tragically a response to this violence is invisible in the budget papers,” Braybrook said.
“Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (FVPLS) provide legal services and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors of family violence. Further investment is needed to build the capacity of existing services and address service gaps to ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women can access these services for safety.
“Budgets set out the priorities of government. Ending the disproportionate impact of violence against Aboriginal women should have been front and centre of this budget.”
Chair of the National Association of Community Legal Centres, Rosslyn Monro, said the budget failed to reverse the looming funding cuts or invest in legal assistance services to meet the demand of women and children fleeing violence every day.
“A 30 per cent cut to funding nationally will mean these women won’t get the legal help they need to maintain their safety,” Monro said.
“Community Legal Centres help over 215,000 people each year, and we are forced to turn away over 160,000 more people each year, largely due to a lack of resources. The Women’s Safety Package announced last October was a welcome but small investment, however that investment will be diluted by a 30 per cent cut to funding for Community Legal Centres across the country from 1 July next year.”