20 May 2021

Women’s safety a priority in budget, but gaps remain

Women’s safety a priority in budget, but gaps remain

The focus on women’s safety has increased in Australia, but there are still gaps in services for victim-survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

The Morrison Government has committed $1.1 billion over five years (including $348 million in 2021/21) to its women’s safety package, with investments in primary prevention, frontline services, respect at work, e-safety, financial support and improved data collection.

This is a record investment in women’s safety, but falls substantially short of the $3 billion over three years (or $1 billion per annum) called for by women’s safety organisations across the country to meet critical gaps in frontline domestic and family violence services and equip communities to address the underlying drivers of violence against women and children, according to Mirage News.

Women’s Safety NSW Hayley Foster says there are still serious gaps for victim-survivors of domestic and sexual violence seeking safety, and for communities who want to stop violence before it starts.

Women’s Safety NSW notes the continuation of the $260 million over two years to support state and territory funded frontline domestic and sexual violence services dealing with record levels of demand post COVID, as well as the $164.8 million over three years for $5,000 packages of financial assistance and support to women affected by family and domestic violence, plus a substantial boost to legal and social supports for women experiencing family violence in family law proceedings.

Foster says 9 out of 10 women experiencing violence who want to be supported to stay home safely with the abuser excluded can’t access these critical services.

There is also very little investment in primary prevention initiatives to address the root causes of violence against women and children with just $92.4 million being invested over four years, she says.