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Challenge

One in three women in Australia have experienced physical violence in their lifetime, and one in six adult women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in police reports and demand for services.

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.

What’s in the 2022-23 Budget?

  • $43.6 million over 4 years to expand Safer Pathways, including:
    • $37.6 million over 4 years for additional case management services and increased referral pathways
    • $2.3 million over 2 years to enhance the central referral point database for NSW Police and other agencies to refer victim-survivors to Safer Pathway services
    • $3.7 million over 4 years to develop an online client management system for Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS)
  • $8 million over 4 years for Court Appointed Questioners to ensure domestic violence complainants are not directly questioned by a self-represented defendant
  • $18 million to expand Audi-Visual Link facilities to approximately 50 courts
  • A new Women’s Safety Commissioner to strengthen cross-government efforts to address domestic and family violence and harassment
  • $484.3 million over 4 years ($77 million to be spent this financial year) to deliver 75 new core and cluster refuges (previously announced in October 2021 as part of the NSW Government’s Economic Recovery Strategy)

What does it mean for those doing it tough?

The expansion of Safer Pathway responds to the sector’s call for more case management through WDVCAS’ for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence accessing the justice system. Increased case management is sorely needed, however linking it to Safer Pathways means that people who choose not/are unable to report violence to police will receive limited benefits. Additional funding and resourcing in NSW courts will support victim-survivors to feel safe during court processes and minimise risks of re-traumatisation.

NCOSS welcomes the establishment of the Women’s Safety Commissioner who will provide expert advice to government on domestic and family violence related issues. NCOSS hopes that this role will enable further advocacy on issues put forward by the sector.

What is needed?

 Beyond the expansion of Safer Pathways and continued commitment to 75 new core and cluster refuges, it was disappointing to see the lack of additional investment in the specialist domestic and family violence sector that is so desperately needed beyond WDVCAS’, including specialist First Nations community controlled and CALD services. There was also no commitment to investing in primary prevention strategies, which has long been advocated for by the sector.

A safe and affordable home remains a key challenge for women, children and LGBTIQA+ people experiencing and fleeing domestic and family violence. The budget failed to prioritise investment in additional social housing despite continuous calls for 5,000 new homes annually to address the serious lack of social housing supply. This lack of investment places victim-survivors in continuous risk and danger.

Further information

Budget responses from the sector:

Sector priorities:

Read our analysis on other specific policy areas below:

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NCOSS Media Release: Big Spending Budget Fails Those Most in Need