There are numerous ways the Morrison government could and should get its spending down. For instance, it could refrain from paying a celebrity builder $345,000 to be a “careers ambassador”, or withhold from spending $247 million over four years on the public school chaplaincy program.
But slashes to The National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum, the only national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim/survivors of family violence and sexual assault, is a despicable act.
From June 30, 2020 the FVPLS Forum will remove Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s voices from the national stage, with the government falsely claiming its decision stems from a CDU evaluation of the forum’s value proposition.
“The Government’s decision is not only baseless and unjustified. It is an attack on our self-determination,” said Phynea Clarke, Deputy Chair of the National FVPLS Forum.
So @ScottMorrisonMP you have $345,000 to pay a celebrity to be a tradie ambassador but not a measly $244,000 to fund the only national forum for Indigenous women to come together to tackle DV in their communities. This is about silencing Indigenous women & organisations. Sickened
— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) December 5, 2019
“It was cruel irony to receive the news we would be defunded on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.”
Given the severity of the domestic and family violence crisis across the Indigenous population in Australia, this decision is even more staggering.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence and 10 times more likely to die from a violent assault than other women in this country. Their experience of such atrocities occur at vastly disproportionate rates.
Moreover, as a result of complex barriers, Aboriginal women are markedly less likely to report occurrences of violence. This makes an organisation like the FVPLS Forum even more critical given its capacity to offer security, guidance and support to our nation’s most vulnerable.
Labor MP Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives, said today that she was “astounded” by the government’s shortsightedness.
“When you look at the shocking statistics relating to Aboriginal women and family violence, it beggars belief that this would happen,” she said.
As such, The National FVPLS Forum is calling on the newly established National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) to reinstate its annual funding of $244,000, initiating the #SaveFVPLS on Twitter and Facebook to gain public support.
Scott Morrison was questioned about the decision in Canberra on Friday.
“There are always issues of ongoing funding right across the budget,” he told reporters.
“There will be a budget for 2020-21 and we will consider all these matters in the normal way.”