2023 State Budget Submission

2023 State Budget Submission

20 February 2023

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Safe and Equal calls for continued investment, collaboration and action for the specialist family violence services and primary prevention sectors in the 2023 State Budget.

The foundations have been laid for a system where every person experiencing or at risk of family violence can access the support they need when they need it. But women are still waiting too long for the help they urgently need, families are still sleeping in unsafe motels, the specialist workforce is burning out, and the system is continuing to fail people and communities.

Victoria has led the way in redesigning responses to family violence, and we need continued investment to keep building a system that works, together.

It is only through continued investment that the Victorian Government can realise the ambitious vision set by the Royal Commission into Family Violence. In particular, we are calling for a focus in this year’s State Budget on:

  1. Increasing sustainable funding for the specialist family violence sector to meet demand
  2. Growing, developing, and retaining specialist workforces
  3. Eliminating the impossible ‘choice’ between violence and homelessness
  4. Addressing key gaps and barriers in the expanding family violence system
  5. Investing meaningfully into primary prevention.

We all want to see Victoria continue to create a family violence system which gives victim survivors a voice, a home, and a timely and clear pathway to recovery.

Our work together is not done. We call on the Victorian Government to invest in the areas we have highlighted throughout this submission. Through continued investment, collaboration and action, we can create a world where family and gender-based violence does not exist.

Page last updated Monday, February 20 2023


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Ochre Ribbon Week

Ochre Ribbon Week

Friday 17 February 2023

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This week is Ochre Ribbon week, an Aboriginal-led advocacy campaign running each year from 12 until 19 February.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women deserve to be safe in their relationships and communities. 

Ochre Ribbon Week raises awareness about the devastating impacts of family violence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

Statistics indicate that Indigenous women experience disproportionate levels of violence – both structural and interpersonal – and face significant barriers to seeking support. 

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Report, three in every five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have experienced physical or sexual violence. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are also 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence, and 11 times more likely to die due to assault, compared to non-Indigenous women.  

These statistics are shocking, and highlight how colonisation, systemic discrimination, structural inequality and racism intersect with gender inequality to increase and intensify First Nations women’s experiences of violence. 

At Safe and Equal, we recognise the critical work of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations in the specialist family violence sector and beyond, and we’re working to amplify First Nations women’s calls for action to end the violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially women and children.  

As 2023’s Ochre Ribbon Week comes to a close, we want to highlight the messages and advocacy from Djirra’s social media campaign, which includes information and education on Ochre Ribbon Week, National Apology Day, and what family violence can look like: 

You can show your support by following and listening to Djirra and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations on social media, including: 

Page last updated Friday, February 17 2023


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Paid Domestic and Family Violence Leave: beyond the legislation

Paid Domestic and Family Violence Leave: beyond the legislation

Thursday 16 February 2023

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Everybody should feel supported to thrive at work, especially when things are unsafe at home.

You may have seen it on the news or heard about it at work: the Australian Government has introduced 10 days paid domestic and family violence leave into the National Employment Standards. 

What is paid domestic and family violence leave?

In short, paid domestic and family violence leave provides employees with paid time away from work so they can deal with the impacts of family violence. 

The leave is legislated and mandatory – meaning all employers have to offer it to their staff by the allocated deadline. For businesses with over 15 employees, this legislation came into effect on 1 February. For small businesses, the deadline to implement domestic and family violence leave is 1 August. 

The leave is referred to as ‘universal’ – meaning it is available to all employees, including casuals. It will also be available upfront – instead of accruing leave over time, an employee can access all 10 days of leave as soon as they need it, with the leave ‘resetting’ each year on an employee’s start date anniversary. 

The introduction of these leave entitlements shows how much Australians recognise the impact family violence has on the community, and the key role workplaces have in being part of the solution. 

Family violence is a workplace issue

We know that family violence is a prevalent and complex social issue, one that has devastating and long-lasting impacts on all parts of people’s lives. 

It also has a significant impact on the economy, costing Australia an estimated $1.9 billion per year. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, between 55% and 70% of women who have experienced or are currently experiencing violence participate in the workforce. That’s around one in six female workers. It’s safe to say most – if not all – workplaces will employee someone who is impacted by family violence. 

Given these figures and how much time we spend at work (most women employed in Australia work over 20 hours per week), there’s clearly a crucial role for employers in preventing and responding to family violence. 

Going beyond leave entitlements

The introduction of paid domestic and family violence leave can make a world of difference to someone experiencing abuse. It means they will be able to keep their jobs while taking the steps they need to keep themselves safe.  

To be able to take paid time off to attend an appointment with a specialist family violence service, go to court to obtain an Intervention Order, or arrange a lease and move house, means a victim survivor has a real chance at safely escaping abuse and can begin their journey to recovery.  

The introduction of this leave is an important and long overdue change – but there is a lot that workplaces will need to consider beyond just making it available to staff. 

In Monash University’s 2021 report Safe, Thriving and Secure: Family Violence Leave and Workplace Supports in Australia, access to paid domestic and family violence leave is highlighted as an important part of a broader framework of workplace responses to family violence. The report describes the significant work required across Australian workplaces to embed a culture and policy environment that is safe and respectful and supports victim survivors to thrive in their jobs. 

Employers will need to consider how leave can be requested and accessed discreetly; for example, under the legislation this form of leave cannot be displayed on a payslip. Both employers and colleagues need to be prepared to respond safely and effectively when someone in the workplace shares that they are experiencing violence. This includes knowing what specialist support is available and approaching the conversation with sensitivity, while maintaining privacy and confidentiality.   

More broadly, it’s critical employers cultivate a compassionate, trauma-informed and supportive culture within the workplace to ensure victim survivors feel safe and able to disclose abuse. This involves ongoing training for all levels of staff that supports an increased understanding of family violence, how to be an active bystander, and staff rights and responsibilities in relation to an accessible domestic and family violence leave policy. 

These skills are complex and nuanced and require time and consideration to embed properly. If you’re thinking about how to implement domestic and family violence leave in your workplace, there are lots of supports available. 

Workplaces have a real opportunity to support the big-picture change that’s needed to eliminate family and gender-based violence. Employers who develop a trauma-informed understanding of family violence, and prioritise a workplace culture of support, safety and respect will not only increase staff retention, performance and engagement, but will give victim survivors the best chance of recovering and thriving.  

For more information on how you can implement a tailored and accessible domestic and family violence leave policy in your business, check out Safe and Equal’s workplace family violence services. 

Page last updated Thursday, February 16 2023


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