MAEVe responds to Victorian Government budget 17-18

MAEVe welcomes the State Government’s recently announced $1.9 billion package to address family violence. As the Government has stated, family violence is “a national emergency that costs far too many lives”, and MAEVe commends the Labor Government on this unprecedented injection of funding to address the issue.

We are particularly pleased to see the Government announce a further $1.9 billion in funding on top of the $572 million invested last year to begin work on the Royal Commission’s most urgent recommendations.

While each of these funding announcements is an invaluable contribution to ending violence against women and their children, we would like to highlight a few that we have been lobbying for, and which directly affect the work we do:

$38.4 million to train thousands of hospital staff to identify and support patients experiencing family violence. This funding delivers on recommendation 95 from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which calls for a ‘whole-of-hospital service model’ for responding to family violence in public hospitals within three to five years. Such funding will be crucial in strengthening hospital responses to family violence, and will assist in its early identification and providing appropriate support for victims in primary care settings.

$131.9 million to expand child protection services and placements for children who are unable to live safely with their families. Child Protection won significant new funding from the budget to support children living with domestic and family violence. A key issue will be to ensure that the funding is used to fund workforce development so that works are able to respond to domestic violence perpetrators. It will also be important to develop the response to children living with domestic violence who come into out of home care so that their recovery from violence and abuse is supported. It will be important that this funding supports a customised response to domestic violence and is not just a ‘grab’ for generalised out of home care funding. The funding provides a major opportunity to develop the child protection response as one which contributes significantly to a sensitive response to women and their children and attention to the accountability of violence.

$33.5 million for greater support for Aboriginal Victorians and Aboriginal organisations and communities, including prevention and early intervention programs and support for victim survivors. Aboriginal Australians are disproportionately affected by family violence, and this funding acknowledges the need for specialised, culturally-appropriate programs that directly engage – and are led by – Aboriginal communities.

$448.1 million to establish 17 support and safety hubs. The first hubs will be launched in Barwon, Bayside Peninsula, Inner Gippsland, Mallee and North-East Melbourne regions in late 2017. $101.2 million of this allocation will also go towards a Central Information Point so that government and family violence ages can better share information. We know that information sharing is essential to providing integrated and effective responses to family violence, which often involve a complex interplay of related issues. We also recognise that some of the regions designated for the first safety hubs are areas of particular vulnerability and need. Placing these initial safety hubs in these areas will go some way towards redressing barriers in access to support and care for victims in these regions.