Budget measures to address violence against women

AWAVA has expressed concern that the Government’s commitment to address violence against women has not resulted in any substantial additional funding.[1] The 2017-2018 Budget is not taking any substantive measure to reduce gender inequality, which is recognised as a cause of violence against women. Diverse groups of women such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and women with a disability are not receiving any additional funding to meet their needs despite the outcomes of the evaluation of the Second Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

 

While we welcome some budget announcements on family law and homelessness services, we remain concerned that without substantial investment and collaboration, we will not be able to prevent or properly respond to violence against women. The funding announced only forms a basic platform for what is needed: a genuine and shared effort to resource services so that they can meet all the needs of the diverse groups of women who are attempting to build lives free of violence.

 

Measures restricting income support, access to pensions and tertiary education also have the potential to undermine the enabling environment for women, as financial independence and access to education are key to women’s safety and well-being.

 

We also need a more well-developed and consultative approach to addressing housing affordability, which disproportionately impacts on women.

 

The Victorian government has allocated $1.9 billion to preventing and responding to family violence in just one state. By contrast, the 2017-18 Australian Government budget includes only around $50 million of “new money” on initiatives relating to violence against women. Announced additional funding does not follow the recommendation obtained from the evaluation of the Second Action Plan namely any funding for Perpetrator intervention programs or better engagement and addressing the needs of diverse groups of women like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

 

It is unclear whether any funding will be made available for the future development of policy and programs that focus on addressing the particular needs of women and their children who have been exposed to sexual violence as per evaluation outcomes.

 

AWAVA reiterates its call for rigorous, transparent reporting of all Commonwealth spending relating to violence against women, across the different portfolios, to enable monitoring by civil society and as a platform for collaborative efforts. Consultation with the federally-funded National Women’s Alliances is another important means by which the Australian Government can help advance gender equality. CPI increases are still not accounted for in the funding of the National Women’s Alliances, resulting in a cut in real terms of approximately $29,000 per Alliance over the four years from July 2016 to June 2020 (assuming a CPI of 2.5%pa). This again limits the ability of National Women’s Alliances to provide input to government on behalf of the diverse range of women and women’s organisations, and to represent this diversity in decision making and policy outcomes.

 

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[1] AWAVA, ‘Violence against women:  Some Budget positives but big gaps remain’, media release 10 May 2017 https://awava.org.au/2017/05/10/announcement/2017-18-budget