BEREJIKLIAN BUDGET IGNORES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRISIS IN NSW
The NSW Labor Opposition has challenged the Liberal and National Government to outline any additional funding to combat domestic violence in Tuesday’s State Budget at the same time as services are being informed that their funding is due to end.
Funding for the prevention of domestic violence has moved across four main portfolios over the last four budgets, and is generally spread across a number of portfolios, so funding for the sector is always unclear.
Labor had promised to deliver a budget and outcomes statement specifically addressing the prevention of domestic, family and sexual violence at the recent election.
Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jenny Aitchison said the Treasurer only mentioned domestic violence once in his speech and only then in reference to two previous budgets.
She said that the government’s existing initiatives to combat domestic violence had failed to halt the escalation in domestic, family and sexual violence.
The latest BOCSAR Quarterly Update shows that in the two years to March 2019:
• Domestic Assault Increased 6 per cent;
• Indecent Assault & other Sexual Offences Increased 5.8 per cent;
• Stalking, Intimidation and Harassment Increased 3.5 per cent;
• Breach Apprehended Violence Order Increased 9.6 per cent.
In the regions, domestic violence rates have skyrocketed in the Upper Hunter Shire with an increase of 87 per cent and Dubbo increasing by 63.4 per cent.
(NB: The only “Premier’s Priority” on Domestic Violence is to reduce recidivism by 25 per cent by 2021)
While BOCSAR suggested increased reporting could account for some of the increase, figures released at the beginning of the month by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed an increase of 23 per cent in hospital admissions for women impacted by domestic violence, indicating the rise is actually more about an increasing severity of the crime. Ms Aitchison said this aligns with the anecdotal evidence of service providers in the sector.
Ms Aitchison said: “Since the beginning of the year, half of the women murdered by violence in Australia have come from NSW*, the latest being in Sydney last night where reported screams were heard from an apartment just moments before a victim fell to her death.”
“Not only does this Budget appear to have not delivered any new money to address domestic, family and sexual violence crisis in NSW, in the last few weeks, but a significant number of service providers have received letters advising them that their services would not be funded after 30 June 2019. Some of these services have been providing services to victim-survivors for a decade.”
“The NSW Government needs to acknowledge the crisis sweeping our state and ensure the sector has appropriate funding and resources both to prevent it, and to help the victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence,” Ms Aitchison added.
The Women’s Domestic Violence Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) has only just received last minute funding reprieve for case management trials at Macarthur and Wagga Wagga, after pressure from Labor, the sector and local MPs. The Attorney General has confirmed that there is no prospect for rolling out case management to other WDVCAS areas before 2021, while they wait for yet another evaluation to take place.
“It is clear the Government has given up when it comes to domestic, family and sexual violence,” said Ms Aitchison. “There’s no new initiatives, no new funding, and they’re stripping funding from services that have been trying their best to help significantly increasing numbers of victims-survivors”.
Ms Aitchison said the failure of the budget to address new funding or to maintain existing funding was not surprising given the lack of any election commitments around domestic violence at the recent election.
“Labor announced an historic $158 million package to End Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence, the largest funding package ever committed by an Opposition party, and the Government announced nothing.”
“The Premier has turned her back on people in NSW who live in households of fear and terror today. This will be a shameful legacy of her heartless Government.”
*According to figures from Destroy the Joint