The state of Domestic Violence in Australia — and how the parties intend to reduce it

Kat J from Unsplash

Today Scott Morrison announced the largest ever Commonwealth investment of $328m for prevention & frontline services to reduce domestic violence, a day after Bill Shorten announced Labor’s Banking Fairness Fund will provide $60m to support women and children fleeing domestic violence. No doubt the Morrison Government would have been fuming that Labor beat them to the announcement, but the notion that the Governments National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010‐2022 was somehow an overnight plan thrown together as a knee-jerk reaction to Labor’s announcement is just silly.

It is difficult to appraise the significance and/or value of the “National Plan” without having a detailed understanding of the legislative landscape, the genuine challenges faced by organisations who assist victims on a daily basis, and I will refrain from making comment on either of the proposals until then.

As of right now there doesn’t appear to be any media release or official comment from OurWatch, or White Ribbon, however the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance have posted the following statement;

What is Morrisons plan?

The $328 million Australian Government contribution to the Fourth Action Plan focuses on key areas where the Commonwealth is best placed to contribute to creating real and lasting change to reduce violence against women and their children. This covers the following major investment areas:

  • $68.3 million for prevention strategies to help eradicate domestic and family violence in our homes, workplaces, communities and clubs (intent to research how this compares to budget and strategies in other countries)
  • $78.4 million to provide safe places for people impacted by domestic and family violence (I intend to look into how they plan to manage and measure success here)
  • $82.2 million to improve and build on frontline services to keep women and children safe (intend to better understand what this means and how this might help)
  • $64.0 million for 1800RESPECT, the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service (intend to look into how often this service is used, and how valuable it is for victims)
  • $35.0 million in support and prevention strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities (intend to research this in greater detail)

$328 million might sound impressive, and hey, the more attention and funding allocated to the plight of victims of domestic violence — the better. But when you compare the investment against the reported $22 BILLION that KPMG predicts costs the Australian economy EVERY YEAR, that is a very small allocation of funds.

By 2022 (end of funding for the National Plan), Domestic Violence would have cost the Australian economy $66 BILLION! So (assuming my math is correct) $328M into $66B is roughly 5% of what it is set to cost us.

Seems rather unimpressive to me. Especially in light of the $50BILLION allocated to the purchase of 12 new submarines as was recently announced by the Government.

What about Labor?

Last week, Labor announced it would levy $640 million over four years from the big banks to create its “fairness fund”. The pool of money will also be used to double the number of counsellors for people experiencing financial stress.

Less than 10% of that Fairness Fund will be dedicated to the provision of financial support for 20,000 survivors of family violence to help them flee abusive relationships.

Taxing the banks to pay for social services is hardly revolutionary, and yet feels uncomfortably refreshing in todays political landscape.

Have either of them got it right?

I’ll leave the value of the policies to the experts, but in my opinion, from the small amount of research I have done, neither have budget that is adequate to combat such an important issue. I believe more independent research is required to look further into both plans recently announced, and industry responses will be critical in contextualising the significance of the recent announcements in DV.

Pity the funding for the ABC and the Governance oversight is constantly under threat!

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