In last night’s budget the Morrison Government failed thousands of women who are trying to escape domestic and family violence, and build safer futures.
The Morrison Government has committed *zero* dollars of new funding in the budget for the specialist services that so many victim-survivors rely on for their safety – and that still aren’t resourced to assist everyone reaching out to them for help.
These are services that have the ability to save and change lives – when they’re resourced. Survivor advocates have even written to members of the Government about the better and safer future that’s possible when these services are available.
But during this time when being safe at home is more important than ever; and when the pandemic and recession are compounding the domestic violence crisis – the Morrison Government has again decided not to properly resource the services that many women rely on to escape abuse and build safer lives.
It’s a decision to leave members of our community in danger.
It will mean many victim-survivors are left without the support they need to manage their safety in moments of great danger – as inadequate resourcing of many specialist domestic and family violence services leads to waiting lists of months for women who need safety support right now.
It will mean many women are unable to access safe at home programs – forced to make the impossible choice between fleeing their unsafe home and hoping they can access homelessness services, or staying trapped with their abuser.
It will mean many victim-survivors urgently needing refuge are left without access to appropriate physical shelter; and access to the specialist support staff they rely on for assistance with immediate safety management after they escape.
It will mean thousands of women needing legal assistance to help them protect their children; deal with financial abuse; or navigate the family law system will be left without the legal advice and support they need from specialist legal assistance services.
It will also mean women on temporary visas who are experiencing violence – who experts say are at most risk right now, as government systems give their abusers even more leverage to keep them trapped – will be left without any of the key changes experts say are needed for their safety.
What’s more, the National Forum for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services – the key specialist and culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim-survivors of family violence – has no funding certainty for their vital capacity building and coordination work beyond December. It is inconceivable to not be continuing to invest in capacity and expertise in family violence services during this time.
This budget is a decision to leave a heartbreaking number of women without the support they need to escape abuse and build safer futures, and that’s a disgrace.