Fund the Frontline

Fund the Frontline. Now.

Frontline family, sexual violence and women’s legal services save lives.

 

Zoe Daniel convened a roundtable in Parliament today of peak bodies and organisations representing more than 200 frontline domestic violence, sexual assault and women’s legal services, and addressed the national media along with women from the sector, calling on the federal government to fund the frontline.  She was joined by:

 

Elise Phillips, DVNSW
Karen Dini-Paul, Warringu
Leeanne Caton, NT representative
Kathleen Maltzahn, CEO, Sexual Assault Services Victoria
Yvette Cehtel, Women’s Legal TAS

Currently, these services are critically underfunded. Across the country, they’re struggling under increasing demand and a dire lack of funding.

Crisis lines can’t meet demand, women are being turned away from specialist domestic and family violence services, emergency accommodation and legal assistance and waiting lists for sexual assault counselling are at least three months.

This is utterly unacceptable. Violence against women is a national emergency. 46 women have been violently killed this year, most by men known to them. As there is no official count for these deaths, the true number is likely to be much higher. Hidden behind these numbers are countless women and children trapped in violent relationships.It’s time for the response to match the scale of the emergency. Every person experiencing family or sexual violence should be able to access the specialist support they need, when they need it – no matter where they live.

These services are vital. They ensure that victim-survivors get the tailored and timely support they need to be safe and to recover from violence.  Without this support, women and children are forced to stay in dangerous situations. Unmet demand is not a problem that organisations can fix, despite their best efforts. This is a resourcing issue.

The frontline sector says the money is not getting to where it needs to go – it’s not reaching those on the ground. We need to fix the pipeline, so the money gets to the frontline.

The federal and state governments must take collective responsibility and stop the buck-passing on this. Lives are at risk.

The Commonwealth Government made a commitment to end violence against women and children in one generation. While this is commendable, good intentions are simply not enough to get us there.   Until all frontline services are adequately and sustainably funded, we’ll never see a future without family, sexual, and gender-based violence.

Frontline services are calling on the Commonwealth Government to immediately implement the following:

  • A long-term National Partnership Agreement between state and federal governments to ensure ongoing and sustainable funding for all specialist family violence services across the country, with special consideration given to those with high demand in rural, regional, and remote areas.
  • Substantial investment in frontline specialist sexual assault services to meet increasing demand and allow diversification of programs, including working with schools and other local organisations to address and respond to sexual violence.
  • A comprehensive National Workforce Strategy (including a robust First Nations Workforce Strategy) that ensures strong and sustainable specialist domestic and family violence and sexual assault sectors nationwide, including in regional and remote areas. The strategy would recognise the separate requirements of each sector, consistently build sector skills and capabilities, address remuneration, enhance professional development, and support workforce health and wellbeing. =
  • Increased input from specialist domestic and family violence experts to the National Partnership Agreements on housing and homelessness and the forthcoming National Housing and Homelessness Plan, to reflect the reality that women and children escaping violence comprise the majority of people seeking housing and homelessness support across Australia.
  • Stronger investment in First Nations specialist domestic, family and sexual violence services to support community-led responses to violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children, who are disproportionately impacted by domestic, family and sexual violence.
  • Additional investment from State and Commonwealth Governments in the specialist legal assistance sector for women affected by gender-based violence, to respond to the increasing demand for assistance. This includes a dedicated funding stream for women’s legal services in the longer term, to respond to gender-based violence as part of the National Legal Assistance Partnership.
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