Faith in action
SAFER is a brand new online resource produced to help churches support and prioritise victims of domestic and family violence, and know how to deal with perpetrators.Read more
There is much to finally commend in this year’s Budget when it comes to action on domestic and family violence. For several years the federal government had refused to give a national funding allocation for homelessness services beyond June 2017. The news is now good – they’ve agreed to a new national funding arrangement with the states - the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement – which will finally include secure, long-term funding for (among other things) women’s refuges, to begin in 2018.
Unexpectedly the Turnbull government has also responded to the ‘Justice for Kids’ campaign that Common Grace supported, announcing a comprehensive review of the family law system, and offering some key measures to address women’s safety. A number of groups have been asking the government to make sure that domestic violence perpetrators are banned from cross-examining their victims in the family court, and it appears that this will now be legislated. We also understand that specialist units will be set up in the family court to intervene in cases involving family violence. These are huge victories for victims escaping violence.
They’ve also set aside funding for some community legal services to increase support for groups most at risk. Community legal services have been at the frontline in helping those escaping violence as they try to navigate the family law system, and there had previously been a planned 30% funding cut to these vital services. So the reversal of these cuts and the additional $5 million in funding are both really positive developments.
So what is next for stretched crisis services and for women trying to escape violence? Our nation’s leaders have repeatedly said that family violence is a “national emergency”, but have not provided the funding needed for victims to leave violent situations. And so far current commitments do not match the reality and the urgency of the need.
This Budget’s promised government funding (early analysis has it at just $50 million) is not even a fraction of what the Victorian Government has allocated in just one state ($1.9 billion), particularly when we consider that last year’s federal budget allocated billions of dollars in funding for national security “to keep Australia safe”.
Experts say that we need an urgent injection of $4 billion into vital crisis services if we are to really tackle this issue and properly support those fleeing violence. We must keep fighting to keep family violence on the national agenda so that there are enough support services to ensure all people everywhere are able to stay safe once they escape the danger in their homes.
This post is part of a series exploring various aspects of the budget and how we as Christians can respond. The Domestic & Family Violence justice campaign team are committed to equipping Christians from a range of Church traditions to respond to the complex issue of family violence. Natalie works in homelessness policy and is part of Newtown Mission in Sydney’s inner west. Image by Matt Glm.
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