Domestic and family violence

Budget Review 2016–17 Index

Janet Phillips and Helen Portillo-Castro

With an increased public and political focus on family and domestic violence, there have been calls for further funding measures to reduce the levels of this form of violence nationally.[1] On 24 September 2015, the Australian Government announced funding for a Women’s Safety Package.[2] This Budget includes additional funding of $100.0 million over three years for women’s safety initiatives.

Funding for anti-violence measures (which may be spread across multiple portfolios) is not always specifically identified in the Budget. The following outlines the Australian Government’s measures included in the 2016–17 Budget that relate to women’s safety or domestic and family violence.

New initiatives to break the cycle of violence

The Australian Government’s main strategy to reduce the levels of domestic violence in Australia is outlined in the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022 (the National Plan).[3] Funding for the National Plan is included under a broader category of ‘National Initiatives’ within the Social Services Portfolio (Program 2.1: Families and Communities).[4] In the 2015–16 Budget, a total of $119.5 million over four years was allocated to National Initiatives.[5] The bulk of this funding (approximately $100.0 million) went to the National Plan.[6]

In September 2015, the Australian Government announced new funding for a Women’s Safety Package that included a variety of measures.[7] The Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Year Outlook 2015–16 (MYEFO) outlined further details about the allocation of $101.2 million over four years under this package, including $59.7 million for Safe at Home programs and counselling and technology trials; $36.5 million for integrated service models and other initiatives to improve support services; and $5.0 million for an expansion of the Safer Schools website promoting respectful relationships.[8]

The 2016–17 Budget allocates additional funding of $100.0 million over three years which will ‘build on the $101.2 million that was provided in the Women’s Safety Package’.[9] However, some $32.2 million of this funding is redirected from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Indigenous outcome (Program 2.3: Safety and Wellbeing).[10]

The measure will focus on prevention and access to services and support, including targeted assistance for Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse women and their children.[11] The measure will also ‘draw on the recommendations of the Third Action Plan’ (part of the National Plan), due for release in mid-2016.[12]

The Australian Government has committed $9.9 million for the development of a Domestic Violence Order sharing system, the National Order Reference System, which allows for police and partner agency cooperation across state and territory borders. This measure also ‘builds on the Women’s Safety Package’, but this funding ‘has already been provided for by the Government’.[13]

Legal assistance

The Australian Government provides funding to the states and territories for legal assistance services through the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services. This assistance includes services provided by family violence prevention legal services.[14]

The Women’s Safety Package announced in September 2015 included $15.0 million for specialist domestic violence legal support.[15] This amount was included, but not specifically identified, in the Women’s Safety Package section of the 2015–16 MYEFO.[16]

Some stakeholders had argued that family violence prevention legal services specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be established as stand-alone services with a direct allocation of additional funding through five-year funding agreements.[17] There are no specific measures in the 2016–17 Budget that allocate additional funding for family violence prevention legal services, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services. However, it has been reported that the Government has advised the National Association of Community Legal Centres that some of the additional $100.0 million in funding for the Women’s Safety Package may be allocated to the legal assistance sector, although the quantum and distribution of such funding has not yet been determined.[18]

For further detail about funding under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services see ‘Legal aid and legal assistance services’ in this Budget Review.

Commentary

In the lead-up to the Budget, many stakeholders commended the Australian Government for its commitment to reducing domestic violence through the implementation of the National Plan, but expressed concerns over gaps in funding for front line services which ‘continue to struggle to meet rising demand’.[19] Many expressed concerns over inadequate or inappropriate services. For example, some stakeholders noted that many of the major domestic violence services are funded through homelessness programs, treating the issue as ‘simply a crisis of accommodation’ rather than ‘an entrenched, ongoing social problem’.[20]

Calls for long-term, securely funded, targeted programs such as a ‘Commonwealth/State Women’s Refuges and Housing Program,’ as suggested by the Women’s Electoral Lobby, have not been provided in the 2016–17 Budget.[21] Subsequent stakeholder reaction has been largely critical with many arguing that front line domestic and family violence services remain under-resourced.[22]



[1].          For background on the topic see: J Phillips, A Dunkley, D Muller and C Lorimer, Domestic violence: issues and policy challenges, Research paper series, 2015–16, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2015.

[2].          M Turnbull (Prime Minister), M Cash (Minister for Women, Minister for Employment, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service), G Brandis (Attorney-General), S Ley (Minister for Health), C Porter (Minister for Social Services), N Scullion (Minister for Indigenous Affairs), M Fifield (Minister for Communications) and S Birmingham (Minister for Education), Women’s safety package to stop the violence, media release, 24 September 2015. Further details were provided in S Morrison (Treasurer) and M Cormann (Minister for Finance), Mid-year economic and fiscal year outlook 2015–16, p. 218.

[3].          Department of Social Service (DSS), The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022, DSS website.

[4].          DSS, ‘Families and Communities Programme: National initiatives guidelines overview’, DSS, Canberra, November 2014.

[5].          M Thomas and A Dunkley, ‘Domestic violence’, Budget Review 2015–16, Research paper series, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, May 2015.

[6].          S Morrison (Minister for Social Services) and M Cash (Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women), Abbott Government delivers funding boost for 1800RESPECT, media release, 17 May 2015.

[7].          M Turnbull (Prime Minister), Women’s safety package to stop the violence, op. cit.

[8].          S Morrison (Treasurer) and M Cormann (Minister for Finance), Mid-year economic and fiscal year outlook 2015–16, op. cit.

[9].          Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2016–17, p. 141; C Porter (Minister for Social Services), Ensuring the Government lives within its means: a targeted welfare safety net, media release, 3 May 2016; and Australian Government, Portfolio budget statements 2016–17: budget related paper no. 1.15a:  Social Services Portfolio, pp. 14 and 64.

[12].       M Cash (Minister for Women), Budget 2016: Budget delivers for Australian women, media release, 4 May 2016.

[13].       Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2016–17, p. 67.

[14].       J Murphy, ‘Legal aid and legal assistance services’, Budget Review 2015–16, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, May 2015.

[15].       G Brandis (Attorney-General), $15 million for specialist domestic violence legal support, media release, 24 September 2015.

[16].       S Morrison (Treasurer) and M Cormann (Minister for Finance), Mid-year economic and fiscal year outlook 2015–16, p. 218.

[17].       National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC), Submission to Australian Government: Federal Budget 2016–2017, NACLC.

[18].       F Kelly, ‘Glimmer of hope for Australia's community legal centres’, RN Breakfast, Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 5 May 2016. 

[19].       For example, see: Australian Women against Violence Alliance, Pre-budget submission, security4women.org.au website, 10 February 2016; and M Davey, ‘Family violence royal commission leaves legal centres on “fiscal cliff”, warns sector’, The Guardian (Australia), (online edition), 8 April 2016.

[20].       Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL), 2016–17 pre-budget submission of the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia, WEL, February 2016; and WEL, Support for a fairer Budget, media release, 10 February 2016.

[22].       National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, Action to combat violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women invisible in the Budget, media release, 3 May 2016; Australian Services Union, Budget cuts hurt, media release, 3 May 2016; and K Fitz-Gibbon, ‘Budget fails women and child victims of domestic violence’ in ‘What political experts are saying about the 2016 budget’, The Conversation, 4 May 2016.

 

All online articles accessed May 2016. 

For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.


© Commonwealth of Australia

Creative commons logo

Creative Commons

With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and to the extent that copyright subsists in a third party, this publication, its logo and front page design are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence.

In essence, you are free to copy and communicate this work in its current form for all non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to the author and abide by the other licence terms. The work cannot be adapted or modified in any way. Content from this publication should be attributed in the following way: Author(s), Title of publication, Series Name and No, Publisher, Date.

To the extent that copyright subsists in third party quotes it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.

Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the publication are welcome to webmanager@aph.gov.au.

This work has been prepared to support the work of the Australian Parliament using information available at the time of production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position of the Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional legal opinion.

Any concerns or complaints should be directed to the Parliamentary Librarian. Parliamentary Library staff are available to discuss the contents of publications with Senators and Members and their staff. To access this service, clients may contact the author or the Library‘s Central Entry Point for referral.  

Top