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BUDGET UPDATE: The 2021-22 Federal Budget – What it promises for the domestic and family violence sector and what to expect

On 11 May 2021, The Hon. Joshua Frydenberg (Federal Treasurer) delivered the 2021-22 Federal Budget.

This Budget emphasized a significant focus on women’s safety and health, especially as it relates to domestic violence. This article addresses the expenditure for domestic and family violence victims.

According to the Australian Government Institute of Health and Welfare, women in Australia are disproportionately affected by family, domestic and sexual violence.

Since the age of 15[1]:

  • 1 in 6 Australian women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner;
  • 1 in 4 Australian women have experienced emotional abuse by a partner; and
  • 1 in 5 Australian women have experienced sexual violence.

Domestic and family violence are serious issues in Australian society, and the commitment of the Federal Government are committing to change – is over $680 million – over double their current commitment.

The Federal Commitment

The proposed funding for domestic and family violence (DFV) prevention is aligned with previous Federal Government commitments, including the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-22, and the COVID-19 Family and Domestic Violence package. These combine to form a $1.1 billion total Federal commitment to Australian DFV prevention.

The proposed investments aim to tackle the challenge of DFV through a focus on “preventing violence before it begins, delivering frontline and response services… understanding the issues through data collection and monitoring, and expanding responses through the justice system.”[2]

To attain this goal, the Government will employ a two-part strategy – providing funding for both Support for Victims and Legal System Support.

1. Objective 1: Support for Victims

Some of the notable points that the Federal scheme incorporates aiming to support victims of domestic and family violence (DFV) include:[3][4]

  • Financial support for women and children leaving violent relationships. This includes $164.8 million over three years in Escaping Violence Payments: up to $1,500 cash immediately, and an additional $3,500 to cover goods, payments of bonds, school fees, rent and other things. As the Government has noted, this will occur on a two-year trial basis[5].

  • Resources to further promote the No Interest Loans Scheme for Family and Domestic Violence, that currently allows up to $2,000 for struggling women impacted by DFV[6].

  • Funding to further expand the availability of emergency accommodation for women/children who are victims of DFV. As part of this, $12.6 million over three years will be directly invested in the Safe Places emergency accommodation program.

  • $35.1 million to support campaigns like Stop it At the Start – targeted at preventing violence before it occurs.

  • Additional funding to trialing the Co-ordinated Enforcement and Support to Eliminate Domestic Violence Program ($4.1 million over three years), focused on deterring and rehabilitating domestic violence perpetrators; and $4.9 million over three years to further preventative services such as No To Violence Men’s Referral Service and Mensline Australia’s Changing for Good program.[7]

  • Delivering a pilot program arising out of Services Australia, providing DFV victims specialist case management and allowing them to only have to share their story once.

  • Various programs and funding specifically targeted towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities ($57.6 million):

      • The establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Advisory Council to represent Indigenous communities and help in facilitating shared decision-making and partnerships
      • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Personal Safety Survey ($31.6 million over five years) to gather data to help shape future policies in relation to specific issues of the Indigenous communities, especially as they relate to DFV or sexual violence.
      • Further resourcing the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services ($26.0 million over four years) to help provide support and services for Indigenous Australians experiencing DFV.

  • $9.3 million over three years towards supporting women with disabilities, who are at higher risks of being impacted by violence.

  • $10.3 million (between 30 June 2022 to 2023) to extend the Temporary Visa Holders pilot program in its endeavours to support migrant and refugee women impacted by DFV.

2. Objective 2: Legal System Support

In facilitation of Objective 1, the Budget aims to facilitate women’s access to justice by providing measures to guide and assist them in protecting their legal rights. The Federal Government break down this investment as follows:[8]

  • $129 million investment into increasing accessibility to legal assistance services;

  • $101.4 million investment into expanding access to Children’s Contact Services for parents to “safely manage the contact and changeover of their children”;

  • $85 million towards family law frontline services, and increasing the Family Courts’ access to Family Advocacy and Support Services; and

  • $60.8 million to Family Law Courts in case management reforms to relieve litigation lag, and finance more expedient and efficient procedures.

Additionally, the Federal Government is pledging an additional $261.4 million as part of a two-year National Partnership Agreement with the Australian states and territories to provide resources and support services to fund new initiatives women’s safety initiatives and frontline support measures.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, your safety and the safety of those around you is the highest priority.

Ensure you call emergency services on 000 and seek help from the appropriate professionals.

If you are seeking legal support for your family matter, Corney & Lind Lawyers are here to help. Contact us today on 3252 0011, or email us at enquiry@corneyandlind.com.au

This article was written by Jackson Litzow (Law Clerk)

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Australian Government Institute of Health and Welfare, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019 (AIHW Report, 05 June 2019) vii.

[2] The Hon. Marise Payne and The Hon. Anne Ruston, Women’s Budget Statement 2021-22 (Budget Report, 11 May 2021) 2.

[3] Commonwealth of Australia, Budget 2021-22 Overview (Commonwealth Report, 11 May 2021) 34 (‘Budget Overview’).

[4] The Hon. Marise Payne and The Hon. Anne Ruston, Women’s Budget Statement 2021-22 (Budget Report, 11 May 2021).

[5] Office of the Prime Minister of Australia, ‘Budget delivering for Australian women’ Budget Delivering for Australian Women (Media Release, 11 May 2021) <https://www.pm.gov.au/media/budget-delivering-australian-women>.

[6] The Hon. Marise Payne and The Hon. Anne Ruston, Women’s Budget Statement 2021-22 (Budget Report, 11 May 2021) 22.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Budget Overview (n 4) 34. (

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