Being free from violence

2020 Victorian Budget Analysis

It has been four years since the landmark Royal Commission into Family Violence report was handed down. Since then, as of 24 August 2020, 166 of the 227 recommendations have been implemented, with a record $2.9 billion invested in the family violence system. This additional support and resources has transformed the lives of many victim-survivors, providing them with accommodation and support they need to begin to rebuild their lives. 

The 2020-21 Budget continues this investment in family violence and gender equity, with modest increases in funding to support victim-survivors and hold perpetrators of family violence to account 

The Budget focuses on a number of specific initiatives, including continuing the operation of the state-wide Central Information Point, developing workforce-specific training in information sharing through the family violence multi-agency risk assessment and management (MARAM) framework, improving perpetrator accountability, continuing funding for Respectful Relationships in schools and early childhood setting and investing in therapeutic interventions including flexible support packages.  

VCOSS welcomes additional investment in the core and cluster refuges and funding to extend the role of the Family Violence Implementation Monitor for a further two years. The Monitor has provided a valuable oversight of the family violence reforms. VCOSS also welcomes the $9.7 million over four years to support family violence prevention outreach and early intervention activities in multicultural communities. 

This budget also delivers on gender equity initiatives, with $16.9 million over four years to advance implementation of Victoria’s Gender Equality Strategy. A range of measures (detailed in Finding a Good Job) focus on women’s employment, recognising the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. These include wage subsidies to help women get back into work, extension of free TAFE and subsidised training places for women who want to train or retrain, free kinder and more after school care to provide more options for working parents, and support for new apprenticeships and traineeships in a range of industries, including some traditionally male-dominated sectors.  

 

Key initiatives: 

Central Information Point

$7.9m in 2020-21 to continue the operation of the statewide Central Information Point (CIP) and to finalise planned system developments. The 2017-18 Budget allocated funds to establish the CIP, which provides information to family safety practitioners in the Orange Door support and safety hubs, to assess and manage safety risk for family violence victim-survivors.

 

Information sharing and family violence risk assessment and management reforms  

$2.7m in 2020-21 to support ongoing work to develop and deliver workforcespecific training in information sharing through the multi-agency risk assessment and management (MARAM) framework. The scope of training will be expanded to embed informationsharing and the MARAM framework into business-as-usual practices of all workforces that interact with victimsurvivors and perpetrators, as prescribed under relevant legislation. 

 

Perpetrator accountability 

$2.6m in 2020-21 ($10.7m/4yrs) to continue to build a system of accountability for perpetrators of family violence by providing funding to: 

  • maintain the provision of case management brokerage to support perpetrators to leave home for a time and keep victimsurvivors safe; and 
  • continue the Caring Dads perpetrator intervention program, following its successful trial. 

 

Respectful Relationships for children and young people 

$12.8m in 2020-21 ($37.5m/4 years) to continue funding for Respectful Relationships to support schools and early childhood educators to promote respect, positive attitudes and behaviours. The initiative provides training and support to schools to implement respectful relationships education as a core component of the Victorian curriculum and professional development for early childhood educators to support respectful relationships in early childhood settings. 

 

Therapeutic interventions 

$21.2m in 2020-21 ($87.3m/4yrs) to invest in therapeutic and flexible support for children, young people and adults impacted by family violence. This includes providing 5,700 family violence flexible support packages for victimsurvivors of family violence each year, and continuing adolescent family violence services for young people and their families. 

  

Family violence refuge responses 

$6m in 2020-21 ($18.2m/2yrs) for enhanced case management and other operational costs associated with two new Aboriginal-managed and 13 redeveloped core and cluster refuges due for completion in 2020-21. This funding will enable 24-hour access and the implementation of other recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. 

 

Family Violence Reform Oversight 

$1.1m in 2021-22 ($1.6m/2yrs) to continue the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor, who monitors, reviews and reports on the progress of implementing recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. 

 

Family violence prevention and early intervention with culturally and linguistically diverse communities 

$2.0m in 2020-21 ($9.7m/4yrs) to administer grants and build capacity in multicultural and faith-based organisations to design and deliver family violence prevention outreach and early intervention activities. This will help secure women’s immediate and longer-term safety through working with multicultural communities to embed enduring attitudinal and behavioural change. 

 

Gender Equality Programs 

$3.9m in 2020-21 ($16.9m/4yrs) to continue to promote gender equality in Victoria through advancing implementation of Victoria’s Gender Equality Strategy, Safe and Strong. This will support programs that promote the participation, leadership and recognition of women in various settings. Core funding is provided to the Office for Women to continue to implement key gender equality reforms. This funding will also support the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre and tenant organisations to undertake critical work to support the health, wellbeing and social inclusion of women, including victims of family violence and single mothers. 

 

Implementation of the Gender Equality Act 2020 

$2.4m in 2020-21 ($11.2m/4yrs) to implement the Gender Equality Act 2020, including: 

  • establishing the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector, ensuring effective administration and implementation of the Gender Equality Act 2020; and 
  • developing and maintaining a reporting platform for defined entities to facilitate submission of Gender Equality Action Plans and progress reports. 

 

Specialist family violence integrated court response 

$1.9m in 2020-21 to expand the successful family violence remote hearing service pilot to 10 locations across Victoria, which will enable victimsurvivors and witnesses to provide testimony remotely and safely. Funding is also provided for additional security at existing Specialist Family Violence Courts, to ensure court staff and user safety. 

Funding is provided to continue the LGBTIQ+ Practitioner Program, to ensure culturally appropriate services are available for LGBTIQ+ victimsurvivors and perpetrators 

 

Additional job training opportunities to support students and job seekers looking to pursue a career in community services 

The package includes funding for: 

  • traineeships in community services organisations with a focus on developing participants’ skills and knowledge in the prevention of family violence and sexual assault, providing valuable work experience and pathways toward becoming a family violence worker; and 
  • the establishment of a new family violence graduate program to create a structured pathway for young people to transition into specialist family violence positions to assist the sector to deliver on family violence reform. 

 

Jobs for Victoria 

$151.3m in 2020/21 ($619.4m/4 yrs) to enhance and expand Jobs Victoria services for Victorian jobseekers and businesses. Funding includes provision of wage subsidies to support businesses to create jobs, with a focus on women’s economic participation. $150 million of these subsidies will go to women (including $50 million for older women). 

 

Further policy directions 

While this budget allocates funding to prevention and early intervention activities in culturally and linguistically diverse communities, increased investment is needed across the state in the primary prevention of family violence. Adequate and recurrent funding for the prevention of family violence is key to stopping violence before it starts. Primary prevention is aimed at the whole community, and includes public awareness raising, education programs in schools, and workplace programs. It is about challenging the attitudes and behaviours that drive family violence and violence against women, to stop violence before it occurs. 

Victoria’s commitment to addressing family violence has seen an increase in victimsurvivors seeking assistance from family violence specialists. The family violence sector has experienced high demand, with the COVID-19 pandemic stretching resources as more victimsurvivors disclose violence and seek help. Increased investment in specialised family violence services is needed to cover higher operational costs, and to help retain experienced workers by allowing services to pay their workforce at a classification/level commensurate with their qualifications, knowledge and skills.  

The Victorian Government can also help overcome the inequalities experienced by women by further embracing gender impact assessment, gender budgeting and gender auditing. Adopting such a gender lens would allow the Government to be more attuned to how policies and programs affect women, and therefore to reduce gender inequality, combat harmful gender stereotypes and empower women.