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Budget slights domestic violence services

  • 15 May 2018


It's frustrating that in its 2018 budget the government could map out the costings of a seven-year tax cut package but wouldn't secure that same forecast period of funding for frontline domestic violence services.

Every year around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November), politicians with white ribbons pinned to their suits deliver passionate speeches about protecting women from domestic violence. But when it comes to implementing life saving measures, their lack of action speaks louder than words.

Keeping Australians safe was one part of the government's five key points in the budget plan. Safety concerns are mentioned multiple times in Treasurer Scott Morrison's speech and touch on securing borders, improving roads, city safety and preventing elder abuse. Yet there was no mention of safety for those escaping violence, let alone money for frontline services and safe housing.

Funding for women's refuges is currently allocated under the homelessness agenda, which raises issues because of the specialist services required by victims of domestic violence — appropriate cultural and linguistic support including translation services, trauma counselling, access to legal advice and representation, and schooling for children.

The 2015 Australian of the year Rosie Batty's heartbreaking story and campaigning helped shine a spotlight on domestic violence. The minister for women at the time, Michaelia Cash, said an impactful campaign similar to those against smoking or drink driving was needed to bridge a gap in Australians' understanding about domestic violence.

The 2015-16 budget reflected that public pressure to address the scourge of domestic violence — announcements included a $30 million state-federal awareness campaign on reducing violence against women and their children.

This was followed in September by an additional $100 million Women's Safety Package including a big advertising campaign to address the root causes of family violence — later added to with a further $100 million thanks in part to the campaigning efforts of groups like Fair Agenda.


"The decision to direct large amounts of funding towards domestic violence awareness campaigns without improving frontline service delivery has left many victims vulnerable."


On the flip side, the success of the advertising campaign has strained resources as it drastically increased the number of people fleeing abusive situations. Leaving a violent home or taking legal action such as taking out an apprehended violence order is usually the most dangerous time in a relationship. The finality of such actions often leads domestic violence perpetrators to act irrationally — which can lead to them