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By Ché Stockley.
Published on the VCOSS Voice on 4 May 2017.
The 2017 Victorian budget provided for a historic and phenomenal $1.9 billion boost of funding to combat family violence.
There are a broad range of initiatives to protect women and children including funding to establish 17 Support and Safety Hubs for survivors and specialist support for victims and supporting recovery. Investments are provided to operate five specialist family violence courts and a boost in funding to support community legal centres and financial counsellors, which work on the frontline protecting families escaping violence.
There is also welcome funding for family violence prevention, which is essential to ensure the root causes are addressed through addressing gender inequality and community attitudes which condone violence against women. Public hospital staff will also be provided with training to prevent and respond to family violence.
Alongside these investments three new specialist agencies will be established to oversee the investments in family violence, the Family Violence Coordination Agency, the Family Violence Prevention Agency and the Centre for Workforce Excellence.
— VCOSS (@VCOSS) May 3, 2017
Support and Safety Hubs
Seventeen Support and Safety Hubs will be established across Victoria. The Hubs will consist of multi-disciplinary intake teams, integrated entry, risk planning and the ability to refer for intensive supports.The first of the Support and Safety Hubs will be operational by the end of 2017 in Barwon, Bayside Peninsula, Inner Gippsland, Mallee and north east Melbourne.
Cost: $26.1m in 2017-18 $381.7m over 4 years
Improved responses for victim/survivors
Funding has been allocated to 24 hour telephone support, case management, therapeutic interventions, financial counselling and unexpected expenses associated with family violence. Improved responses for victim/survivors include:
Cost: $26.3m in 2017-18 ($270.8m over 4 years)
Improved responses for Aboriginal Victorians
Specialist Aboriginal legal services will receive additional funding to take on more cases and culturally specific prevention, early intervention and diversion responses being delivered by Aboriginal support services will get additional resourcing to undertake this important work
In addition, culturally safe family violence services will be trialled through the Koori Women’s Gathering Place and family centred holistic healing models will be provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.
Cost: $2m in 2017-18 ($11m over 4 years for legal services)
Cost: $0.9m in 2017-18 ($11.4m over 4 years for intervention and diversion)
Cost: $3.1 in 2017-18 ($11.2m over 4 years for support and healing)
Three new specialist agencies will oversee the delivery of a range of new initiatives in the 2017-18 Victorian Budget.
The Family Violence Prevention Agency will focus on preventing family violence and promoting gender equality. It will provide advice on behaviour change, respectful relationships curriculum and gender equality.
Cost: $3m in 2017-18 ($12m over 4 years)
The Family Violence Coordination Agency will oversee the establishment of the Support and Safety Hubs and guide other new initiatives arising from the Family Violence Royal Commission. Cost: $15m in 2017-18 ($60m over 4 years)
The Centre for Workforce Excellence will contribute to industry planning and provide formal workforce training for workers in the social services sector. Training will be tailored for Aboriginal workforces to support and respond to family violence experienced by Aboriginal people, and to other specialists including child protection, mental health and AOD workers to better prevent and respond to family violence in their work. Training will also be provided to workers to better respond to diverse communities.
Cost: $29.2m in 2017-18 ($95.5 over 4 years for the centre and industry planning )
LGBTI family violence initiatives
Funding has been allocated to support people from LGBTI communities experiencing family violence, including tailored family violence services, delivered by specialist providers.
Cost: $5.3m over 4 years
Justice system enhancements
Specialist Family Violence Courts will be fully implemented in Ballarat, Frankston, Shepparton, Moorabbin and Heidelberg. This includes improving facilities to enhance safety. Additional support workers will also be located at the Melbourne Children’s Court.
Cost: $130.3m over 4 years
A new case management system in the Magistrates and Children’s Courts will improve information sharing about cases for more efficient court case management.
Cost: $6.7m in 2017-18 ($22.4 over 4 years)
More legal assistance and duty lawyers will provide timely assistance for victim/survivors and in the specialist family violence courts.
Cost: $8.2m in 2017-18 ($49.9m over 4 years)
The budget provides more voluntary places in men’s behaviour change (MBC) programs through increased funding directly to men’s family violence services. These services will also have the opportunity to trial innovative perpetrator interventions. Communications mechanisms will be strengthened to ensure that Magistrates know whether a perpetrator has attended a court directed MBC program and outcomes of their participation.
Cost: $22.7m in 2017-18 ($76.9m over 4 years)
Central Information Point
The Central Information Point (CIP) will provide up to date information to assist risk assessment and risk management in family violence cases. People working with victim/survivors and perpetrators will receive training to learn about the scope of information sharing under new legislation.
Cost: $4.7 in 2017-18 ($11.6 over 4 years)
The Family Violence Outcomes Framework will be implemented, alongside system-wide evaluations, an expanded research capacity and improved data collection. The budget also made an allocation for the design and piloting of new funding approaches.
Cost: $22m in 2017-18 ($72.8 over 4 years)
Training and workforce development in hospitals
Staff in public hospitals will be trained to identify and respond to family violence, and give them access to family violence experts to help them develop family violence response procedures. This will also be used to strengthen referral pathways for victim/survivors within the public hospital system.
Cost: $10.2m in 2017-18 ($36.5m over 4 years)
Prevent elder abuse
The Victorian Government can help older people at risk of physical, emotional or financial abuse and mistreatment by strengthening community understanding of elder abuse and improving system responses.