INQUIRY HIGHLIGHTS GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO SUPPORT WOMEN AND CHILDREN FLEEING DOMESTIC ABUSE

  • Media Release

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER
SHADOW CABINET SECRETARY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMMUNITIES AND THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE
 
SHARON CLAYDON MP
CHAIR, STATUS OF WOMEN CAUCUS COMMITTEE
MEMBER FOR NEWCASTLE
 
INQUIRY HIGHLIGHTS GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO SUPPORT WOMEN AND CHILDREN FLEEING DOMESTIC ABUSE

The inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence has finished a week of hearings taking evidence from specialist domestic and family violence services.
 
The Committee heard the same message over and over again: The Morrison Government is failing some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Service and policy gaps, insufficient funding, inadequate consultation and cuts have plagued the sector who are working hard to support women and children fleeing violence.
 
Services criticised the lack of additional funding for the family violence sector in the recent budget, with many reporting that they have been unable to meet the demand for services during COVID-19. 
 
Organisations working with migrant and refugee women fleeing violence reported that a lack of culturally-specific services and barriers to women on visas accessing social support means many victim-survivors fall through the gaps.  Sandra Wright from the Settlement Council of Australia stated:
 
“Unfortunately, the current system doesn't adequately respond to the diverse experiences and needs of migrant and refugee women. We hear from our members, as well as colleagues in the domestic and family violence sector, that migrant and refugee women frequently fall through the gaps.”
 
Many women experiencing domestic and family violence in rural, regional and remote communities have found it virtually impossible to access services in person, with bad connectivity making it difficult to access services online. DV Assist’s submission to the inquiry noted that:
 
“People in very remote communities rely on outreach services from the nearest major town. For example, Yilgarn in the Goldfields region of Western Australia relies on domestic violence counselling operating out of Northam located 274km away.”
 
For LGBTI Australians facing violence, mainstream services do not recognise their unique experiences or provide specialised support for their needs, with a representative from ACON reporting that policy development around family violence in LGBTI communities is decades behind where it should be.
 
First Nations frontline services are struggling to meet the demand for services, with the NPY Women’s Council reporting that inadequate Government funding, particularly during COVID-19, has made it difficult to meet the need for services in First Nations communities. Organisations also criticised the Government’s funding cut to the National FVPLS Forum, the advocacy body for many First Nations frontline services, with the forum approaching 2021 with little funding certainty. 
 
Despite the urgent need to work with men perpetrating violence, peak men’s service No to Violence reported that the availability of men’s behaviour change programs outside of capital cities is extremely limited, with some having 18-month waiting lists. 
 
Quotes attributed to Senator Jenny McAllister
 
 “It is clear that the Government is not listening to the needs of frontline services. This is reflected in its inadequate response to family, domestic and sexual violence in our communities. 
 
Organisations have appeared at inquiry after inquiry to share their experiences and information - it’s time for action.”
 
Quotes attributed to Sharon Claydon

“All of the data suggests that violence against women and children is increasing. Frontline services are at their wits’ end trying to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, and the unmet need continues to grow.  

"It is bitterly disappointing there was nothing in the Budget for these critical frontline services.”


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