Victoria’s response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence

The Victorian Government last week announced a significant funding package of $572 million in response to recommendations made in the report by the state’s Royal Commission into Family Violence tabled on 29 March 2016.

The package, to be implemented over two years, provides funding for implementation of 65 of the Royal Commission’s 227 recommendations. The Victorian Premier has indicated the package is a ‘down payment’ and that ‘a 10-year plan for action on the royal commission’s recommendations and indeed beyond’ will be released before the end of this year.

The largest segments of the initial funding will be directed towards:

  • family violence refuges, crisis accommodation, social housing and housing support services to prevent victims becoming homeless as a result of fleeing violence in the family home ($152.5 million)

  • expanding support programs for children and pursuing reform of the child protection system ($122 million)

  • crisis support and counselling to meet demand for specialist family violence services ($103.9 million)

  • influencing community attitudes about preventing violence through rolling out the Respectful Relationships program in primary and secondary schools and developing a gender equality strategy ($61.6 million)

  • working with Indigenous communities and expanding special programs for Indigenous women ($25.7 million)

  • reform of the legal system through, for example, expanding legal services for victims and men’s behaviour change programs ($23.9 million).

$82.3 million out of the package will set in place systemic improvements recommended by the Royal Commission, namely to:

  • create an information sharing regime among specialist service providers, law enforcement and the justice system ($32.5 million)

  • fund domestic violence advocate positions to assist victims in navigating the system ($19 million)

  • establish an independent monitor and a coordinating agency to see the Royal Commission’s recommendations are implemented with appropriate stakeholder engagement ($15.4 million)

  • enhance development of the family violence workforce through capacity building and development of the Family Violence Index ($10.4 million)

  • establish 17 state-wide support and safety hubs by July 2018 ($5 million).

Early responses from stakeholder groups welcomed the announcement. Family violence and homelessness campaigners, along with specialist service providers, applauded the speed of the Government’s response in implementing the recommendations. Domestic Violence Victoria stated that the Victorian Government had set ‘a benchmark for the level of investment that is needed across Australia to end violence against women and children’.

National significance

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) recognises that a whole-of-government and community response is required to achieve a reduction in violence against women in Australia and has endorsed the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022. The National Plan is to be implemented through a series of four three‐year Action Plans over 12 years.

The Victorian Royal Commission’s findings comprise one of several inputs that will inform the Third Action Plan which is expected to be released in mid-2016. This Third Plan ‘will set out Australia’s policy priorities, actions and direction to help reduce violence against women and their children for the next three years.’ It will also incorporate recommendations from the Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children final report to COAG, presented on 1 April 2016.

The Advisory Panel examined several factors across jurisdictions that need to be considered in funding an integrated approach to reducing the national incidence of domestic violence. It recommended that:

All Commonwealth, state and territory governments should examine current funding arrangements aimed at reducing violence against women and their children.

Governments should:

  • ensure funding for supporting women and their children, and for perpetrator programmes, is adequate and responsive to changes in demand for services

  • support the delivery of sustainable and effective services through the introduction of long-term contracts

  • increase current funding for trialling, sharing and expanding new and innovative responses to violence against women and their children

  • ensure funding for services that address violence against women and their children can be clearly differentiated from other areas of expenditure

  • introduce contracting approaches that encourage collaboration and integration across the sector.

The Australian Government adopted all recommendations in the Advisory Panel’s preliminary advice in July 2015. A $100 million package launched in September 2015 increased funding to frontline services, technological innovation and education initiatives around promoting safety in the family home and access to services. A further $30 million campaign to influence young peoples’ attitudes to domestic violence and gender inequality, jointly funded with states and territories, is to be released in coming months according to a submission by the Department of Social Services to the current federal Senate inquiry into domestic violence and gender inequality.

For further background on the topic of violence against women and children and its place on the national policy agenda, see the following Parliamentary Library publications:

If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault or family violence, visit ANROWS Get Support website or call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), the 24 hour, National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line.


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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