One in four women experiences violence by a current or former partner. In NSW there are around 2,500 reports of domestic violence to the police every month – but this likely represents only 40% of actual crime levels due to underreporting. Domestic and family violence is a key driver of homelessness and is the primary reason for a third of people seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services. The COVID-19 lockdowns led to a significant increase in demand for services, and in the complexity of clients attending. It is estimated that rising unemployment will see further increases – up to 5.5% in some regions.
What's in the 2020-21 Budget
- $160.5 million in 2020-21 ($538.1 million over 4 years) in continued funding to reduce domestic and family violence re-offending and support victim safety through continuation of early intervention initiatives, victim support and perpetrator interventions.
- $3.1 million new funding in 2020-21 to boost frontline support services, as part of the NSW Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $10 million in new funding for women to provide support for re-entering the workforce including up to $5,000 in individual grants.
What does it mean for those doing it tough?
Continued funding to reduce domestic and family violence is welcome, however it is unclear whether this funding will be targeted where it is needed most. Significant gaps in the service system such as addressing up to 6-month wait lists, a lack of case management services and inconsistent service availability across the state have not been addressed.
What is needed?
The $3.1 million for frontline services does not go far enough to meet increasing demand, and is a short-term funding boost. It also follows previous years with no significant NSW Budget commitment to increase funding for domestic and family violence supports. The sector requires more investment in early intervention and crisis supports to meet projected increases in demand. There is a concerning lack of investment in preventing domestic and family violence.
Far more significant investment in female-focused employment to create secure, well-paid jobs and economic stimulus is also crucial to facilitate financial independence and enable women to leave violent situations.
Budget responses from the sector:
- NCOSS 2020-21 Pre-Budget Submission
- DVNSW 2020 Economic Stimulus & Budget Submission
- A Safe State campaign
- A Wave of Disadvantage Across NSW: Impact of the COVID-19 recession