DV Vic and DVRCV response to the 2021-22 Victorian State Budget announcement

Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic) and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV), the peak body for specialist family violence services in Victoria, welcomes yesterday’s announcement of the Victorian State Budget for 2021-22. We are pleased to see ongoing commitment to addressing family violence feature in the budget, with an overall investment of $354 million.

Tania Farha, CEO of DV Vic and DVRCV said, “Rates of family violence in our community are increasing year on year. While we unreservedly welcome the funds committed by the government to family violence responses in this budget, we know that this level of funding does not meet the level of need in the community.”

The specialist family violence sector is emerging from a major period of reform off the back of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, while also recovering from the unprecedented disruptions and challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. We thank the Victorian Government for its ongoing commitment to addressing family violence, and particularly welcome this budget’s additional funding for support services for victim-survivors ($49 million over four years).

The investment outlined in yesterday’s budget announcement includes:

  • Continuation of funding of the Central Information Point ($12.9 million) which provides comprehensive information to family violence practitioners in The Orange Door to ensure the safety of victim-survivors. We look forward to working with government to ensure The Orange Door will be fully integrated with the broader systemic response to family violence and access to this crucial risk management platform is extended to include the entire specialist family violence service sector.
  • Ongoing funding ($97 million over four years) for the implementation of the multi-agency risk assessment and management framework (MARAM) and information sharing schemes to support workforces to develop more comprehensive policies and practices for responding to family violence. Significant resourcing will be required to support the newly mandated workforces (totalling an estimated 370,000 individual workers across a range of service areas) to implement these crucial reforms. We hope that this work will continue to be informed by specialist family violence practice.
  • Specific initiatives focused on Aboriginal communities including the establishment of an Aboriginal refuge in Horsham, after hours family violence support and legal assistance to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.
  • Investment in family violence early intervention, and responses to children and young people impacted by family violence. This includes the welcomed state-wide expansion of therapeutic services for adolescents who use violence in the home. There is a critical need for concurrent investment in the development of a state-wide coordinated crisis response to adolescent family violence, which is currently lacking.
  • Increased investment in perpetrator accountability ($18.1 million).
  • $1.2 million investment (over two years) in the Family Violence Graduate Program that will support 80 new graduates to receive training and on-the-job support while working to become specialists in family violence services. This initiative delivers on the promised investment in the last budget for creating pathways to employment for young people to transition into specialist family violence positions.
  • Investment to strengthen justice system responses to family violence. This will include additional funding to expand the network of specialist family violence courts and to increase early access to legal advice for victim-survivors will help promote safer legal outcomes for victim-survivors.
  • Investment in the victim service system. We look forward to receiving more detail about how this will contribute to increasing access to the support services and financial assistance essential for victim-survivors to rebuild their lives and recover.
  • Investment of $2.4 million over two years to develop tools and resources for addressing drivers of sexual violence in young people, as well as resourcing for youth-focused programs that promote healthy relationships and greater community understanding. We welcome the $2.3 million investment to continue delivering initiatives that promote gender equality and respectful relationships among young people and address the drivers of sexual and family violence. Continued investment in strengthening broader understanding of the drivers of family violence and gendered violence is critical to support sustainable, long-term social change.
  • Additional funding to support women’s health services across the state. This funding will continue to build the capacity of regional infrastructure to strengthen sector-wide collaboration and primary prevention deliverables.
  • Investment to support the establishment of a new gender responsive budgeting unit. Deliberately applying a gender lens to assess the overall gendered reach and impact of the Victorian State Budget is essential to advancing gender equality and ending family violence in our community.

We look forward to receiving further details about how this money will be spread across the many areas of work required for a safe and coordinated response to victim-survivors of family violence and concerted effort to prevent this violence before it occurs.

The only way to stem the unacceptable rates of family violence in our community is to stop it from happening in the first place. There is still much more to be done including the much-needed additional investment in prevention and the prevention workforce, as well the longstanding need to increase funding for specialist family violence response services.

DVVic and DVRCV are committed to continue our work with the Victorian Government to ensure funding is committed in 2022-23 and beyond for prevention and adequate and sustainable funding for the essential services working to support the safety and wellbeing of victim-survivors and ending family violence across our community.