Safe and Equal welcomes the ongoing investment in and support of women’s safety initiatives delivered in the 2023-24 Federal Budget and acknowledges this as a step toward achieving the ambitious goal of ending family violence in one generation as outlined in the new National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children.
The new budget reflects the Albanese government’s commitment to supporting Australians during a time where many are doing it tough; and we are hopeful further funding announcements tied to the new National Plan’s first Action Plan (due for release later this year) will provide the bold and visionary investment required to address family and gender-based violence across the country.
Of particular note in this budget is the announcement of a further $326.7 million across four years (with $19.4 million per year ongoing) to deliver women’s safety initiatives under the National Plan, including:
- $159 million over two years from 2023–24 to extend the Family and Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses National Partnership Agreement with state and territory governments and to continue to address service gaps to and support frontline service delivery
- $38.2 million to extend the current Escaping Violence Payment and Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot to January 2025
- $12.1 million over four years from 2023–24 to develop and distribute social media resources for young people on consent and to support community-led sexual violence prevention pilots.
These funding announcements are welcomed and ensure that some important frontline services for victim survivors are safeguarded against funding cuts for the next two years.
We are also pleased to see the Government commit $194 million over five years to support the dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan under the National Plan which is still in development, including:
- $145.3 million over four years from 2023–24, including a provision of $128.6 million in the Contingency Reserve, to support activities which address immediate safety concerns for First Nations women and children who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, family, and domestic and sexual violence
- $23.2 million over four years from 2023–24 to support families impacted by violence and at risk of engaging in the child protection system, through programs aimed at early intervention and recovery and supporting families
- $17.6 million over two years from 2023–24 to deliver on family safety initiatives under the Action Plan
- $7.8 million over four years from 2022–23 (and $4.0 million in 2027–28) to support the development of a standalone First Nations National Plan for Family Safety.
This announcement shows a commitment to the development and delivery of this dedicated Action Plan, and we hope to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities having the resources and remit to design and deliver the activities to end family violence within their communities.
Additionally, we welcome the commitment to address the indexation of community services wages, which are expected to increase by $242 million in 2023-24, and by around $4 billion over the four years from 2023 to 2027. While we’re looking forward to knowing more detail about this commitment, we’re hopeful it represents an intention to deliver real wage growth to workers in community services, and that services are funded appropriately to do this.
While this builds on announcements in the Albanese Government’s first budget, much more needs to be invested into women’s safety initiatives, from primary prevention through to response and recovery. We hope to see additional commitments across the continuum with the release of the first Action Plan, including:
- Increased investment in long-term primary prevention actions and programming, as articulated in the National Plan
- The development of a long-term strategic plan focused on building the size and capacity of the prevention workforce
- Funding to coordinate interstate prevention activities
- Commitment from both state and federal government to long-term, adequate funding for specialist family violence services, who continue to grapple with increasingly unsustainable demand and limited resources.
Additionally, we would like to see the government invest in more formal processes and guidance for working with survivor advocates in the design, delivery and evaluation of women’s safety initiatives. While new funding committed in the previous budget was welcome, meaningful engagement with lived experience is crucial and requires greater prioritisation and further investment.
There are a range of welcome announcements prioritising housing and social security in this budget, including the abolition of ParentsNext, an investment of $1.9 billion over five years to extend eligibility for single parenting payments, and an additional $67.5 million in 2023-24 to boost homelessness funding to states and territories. The increase of $40 per fortnight for people on income support payments is welcomed and long-overdue, but just the start.
These targeted measures will provide victim survivors with better access to housing and income support, which we know are critical to achieving long-term safety and recovery. However, while increases announced in this budget are a win, they continue to fall short of what is required to combat the rising rates of housing insecurity, homelessness and poverty that more Australians are facing.
Achieving the cultural and systemic change required to prevent and end family violence in one generation is an ambitious goal, but certainly possible. It requires bold and visionary investment in the initiatives we hope to see outlined in the National Plan’s first Action Plan and dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan.
Safe and Equal commends the Albanese Government for the focus and prioritisation of women’s safety and gender equality initiatives in this year’s budget, and we look forward to continuing together on the path to realising the vision set out in the National Plan.