PREMIER FAILS TO MEET DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PRIORITY IN BUDGET
With a reduction in recidivism one of the so-called “Premier’s Priorities”, the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government has again failed domestic violence victims and survivors in its eighth and final budget before the 2019 election.
Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and Shadow Minister for Women, Jenny Aitchison says this is further evidence of a Government that has wrong priorities and has set domestic violence service providers up to fail due to chronic underfunding.
The Budget confirmed the Government’s earlier commitment of an additional $7 million for the remaining Safer Pathway sites to be rolled out by the end of 2018, however the Safer Pathway program is highly dependent on the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS), an organisation who received no additional funding in the Budget and has experienced an increase in their workload of some 104% with only 20% increase in funding since the implementation of Safer Pathway.
Case management funding for WDVCAS has only been extended for one year in Macarthur and Wagga Wagga, rather than being rolled out to other WDVCAS branches. Long term funding for WDVCAS across the state has not yet been guaranteed, the contract expired on 30 June 2018 and funding has only been extended until 31 October 2018. It is widely believed the services provided by WDVCAS will be put out to tender. Domestic violence support services are outraged that the NSW Government has failed to recognise their role in preventing domestic and family violence, and to fully fund and implement an evidence-based violence prevention strategy for government, business and the wider community. The Government has put more funding into DVEQUIPS which was criticised in the latest BOCSAR report as not achieving good results in changing perpetrator’s behaviours.
There is no additional funding for refuges in the sector, while survivors consistently report they are being turned away from services.
It is clear to Labor that women and children escaping domestic violence are being left out of the picture. Across the state, refuges and frontline services have been stretched to breaking point.
Refuges have been under greater financial pressure since the Government cut their funding by $20 million in 2014. The Treasurer boasted of a $4billion surplus yet has failed to provide any significant new money for the domestic and family violence sector which supports thousands of victims each year. A mere $2.7 million for an Innovation Fund will be a band-aid solution and will do little to prevent further domestic violence in our community.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and Shadow Minister for Women, Jenny Aitchison MP:
"It's crucial that the Government properly funds the services that people need when they attempt to escape domestic violence.
“This is just more wrong priorities for the Government.
“This Budget further highlights the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government’s lack of compassion for those in our community who are most vulnerable.
“Specialist domestic and family violence services have been over capacity and under-resourced for years but this Government has failed them again.
"It's time that the NSW Liberal Government provided the support that is needed to help victims and survivors of domestic violence.
“Helping victims and survivors to escape domestic violence is the most important and most effective form of long term preventative action to stop intergenerational family violence.
“The Government is happy to splurge $2.2 billion on their Sydney stadium knock down rebuilds while victims and survivors are in desperate need of help. This is a Government full of wrong priorities!”