Women’s safety

Budget Review 2022–23 Index

Harriet Spinks

The 2022–23 Budget provides $1.3 billion over 6 years (from 2021–22) for measures to address family, domestic and sexual violence under the first phase of the new National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022–2032. This builds on the $1.1 billion for women’s safety provided in the 2021–22 Budget.

The new National Plan is currently being finalised with the states and territories, after a draft was released for consultation in January 2022. It will replace the existing National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022, which will expire this year. The new National Plan will be underpinned by 2 five-year action plans (and also two dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander action plans), which will set out actions to be taken by the Commonwealth and the states and territories. The funding provided in this Budget forms part of the Commonwealth’s commitment to the first of these five-year action plans.   

The new National Plan will be built around the 4 pillars of prevention, early intervention, response and recovery, and the $1.3 billion provided in the Budget (pp. 66–69) reflects these focus areas:

  •   $222.6 million over 6 years is allocated for measures aimed at prevention, including:
    • $104.4 million to expand the role of national prevention organisation Our Watch
    • $46.0 million to extend the Stop it at the Start campaign
    • $32.2 million for a consent campaign, targeting children aged 12 and over and their parents.
  •   $328.2 million over 5 years is allocated for measures targeting early intervention, including:
    • $127.8 million for trauma-informed counselling services and to extend support for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Support Services
    • $47.9 million for an early intervention campaign aimed at boys and young men
    • $26.6 million to support the eSafety Commissioner to address online abuse (funding for this purpose was recommended by the House Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety’s Inquiry into Social Media and Online Safety in March 2022).
  •   $480.1 million over 6 years is allocated to response measures aimed at supporting women and children experiencing family and domestic violence, including:
    • $240.0 million to extend funding for the Escaping Violence Payment, announced in the 2021–22 Budget, for a further 3 years
    • $100.0 million to extend the Safe Places program which provides emergency accommodation for women and children escaping violence
    • $54.6 million to continue the Keeping Women Safe in their Homes and Safe Phones programs, which support women and children who have experienced violence to remain safely in their homes.
  •   $290.9 million over 5 years is allocated for measures to support the recovery of family and domestic violence victim survivors, including:
    • $87.9 million for a national expansion of the Lighthouse Project, which triages family and domestic violence matters before the family court
    • $48.7 million for measures to help victim survivors of family violence navigate the health system (2022-23 Women’s Budget Statement, p. 19)
    • $67.2 million to pilot a new model of trauma-informed care delivered through Primary Health Networks (2022-23 Women’s Budget Statement, p. 20).

Around $200 million of this funding has already been announced in separate statements in February and March 2022.

The 2022-23 Women’s Budget Statement (pp. 7–26) provides detail on the funding and some of the programs it will support. For each pillar of funding it sets out what it calls ‘New initiatives’ to be funded under this Budget. However, much of the funding is in fact for the extension of existing initiatives and programs. For example, of the $203.6 million provided for activities under the ‘Prevention’ pillar (pp. 11–12), over $165 million is to extend or update existing measures and programs. Similarly, of the $480.1 million committed to the ‘Response’ pillar, at least $400 million is to extend existing programs. The largest investment under this pillar is $240 million to extend the Escaping Violence Payment for a further 3 years. The implementation of this payment program, which was first announced in 2021, has not been smooth, with reports of women waiting up to 3 months for the payment, and some service providers expressing concern that rather than helping, it may be offering women’ false hope’ and putting them in greater danger.

The Government has stated (p. 9) that the new National Plan will be informed by the recommendations of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs’ inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence, which reported in April 2021. That Report made 88 recommendations, many of which were directly concerned with the content of the next National Plan. Several recommendations also related to funding for specific programs and actions. While some of these are reflected in the measures funded in this Budget, many are not. In particular, the Report made several recommendations concerning measures aimed at addressing violence against women with disability and LGBTQI women, yet there is little in this Budget targeted specifically at these groups.  

However, the Government has not yet formally responded to the Report, stating that it would provide a response following finalisation of the next National Plan. Stakeholders will doubtless be watching to see if funding for implementation of those recommendations which have not been addressed yet is prioritised in the new National Plan, and provided in future Budgets.

While any injection of funding into family and domestic violence programs is welcomed by the sector, critics say that the $1.3 billion package in this Budget offers only a piecemeal solution, and does not offer the ‘transformational level of funding required to … “eliminate” violence against women and children’. They further argue that the Budget does not do enough to address the ‘systemic ways women’s inequality is linked to violence, and how violence and abuse is sustained via inequality’, nor does it focus enough attention or funding on the role of men in prevention activities. Women With Disabilities Australia has also criticised the package, noting that it includes no funding targeted specifically at addressing the violence experienced by women and girls with disability, who are known to experience higher levels of violence than women without disability.

It is likely that further funding for women’s safety will be provided in future Budgets as the new National Plan and its accompanying Action Plans are finalised – as the Government notes (p. 9), the funding in this Budget forms ‘part of the Commonwealth’s contribution to the first Action Plan’.


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