In a difficult economic context, the Victorian Government is ‘staying the course’ on responses to family violence.
In the years since the Royal Commission into Family Violence, we have seen incredible investment into major reforms.
Building on the investment from previous years, and in a context that tightens spending across critical community services, the 2023-34 Victorian Budget does include $77 million to continue delivering support for victim survivors of family violence and sexual assault and perpetrator intervention initiatives over the next four years. This includes ongoing funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to deliver family violence and sexual assault services and the establishment of a collaborative crisis accommodation model for people at high risk of family violence with very high support needs.
A further $23 million towards providing access to specialist legal assistance in seven new family violence courts is also welcome.
Even with this investment, there are persistent gaps, barriers and pressure points that remain in the family violence system due to increasing demand and need.
Disappointingly, this budget contains no notable investment into increasing access to social and affordable housing.
Last year, we welcomed the announcement of funding for two new refuges as well as upgrades to existing locations that would increase capacity within Victoria’s stretched specialist family violence emergency accommodation system.
But victim survivors are getting stuck in crisis accommodation, with nowhere safe and affordable for services to move them into long-term. This year’s budget papers show that people experiencing family violence are facing an average wait time of 20 months for priority public housing, up from last year’s already unacceptable 17 months. Due to a critical lack of suitable options, many victim survivors of family violence are facing an impossible choice between homelessness and abuse.
Until the government commits to developing more social housing properties and investing long-term into initiatives that enable people to remain safely in their own homes, access to safety and recovery for victim survivors will continue to be limited.
The Victorian Government made an ambitious commitment to rebuild our family violence system and backed this with incredible investment in the years since the Royal Commission into Family Violence. These reforms have laid the foundations for a system that can give victim survivors a voice, a home, and a timely and clear pathway to recovery.
Victoria has led the way in preventing and responding to family violence, but we have a long way to go to ensure a flexible and accessible system that works for everyone.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Andrews Government to realise the vision of a Victoria free from violence.