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Thursday, May 16, 2024

‘Failed’: Criticism over budget’s response to Australia’s gendered violence crisis

Key Points
  • The federal budget includes a series of measures to support women’s safety, but advocates say it’s not enough.
  • Karen Bevan, CEO of Full Stop Australia, said the investment fails to match the scale of the national emergency.
  • Twenty-eight women have been violently killed in Australia in 2024, according to advocacy group Destroy the Joint.

This article contains references to domestic violence.

As Australia continues to grapple with a

, some women’s safety advocates have described the 2024 budget as a “missed opportunity”.

The budget included a series of measures to support women’s safety, economic security, and health, but the major investments — including

to make permanent the Leaving Violence Program — had already been announced.

It comes two weeks after

calling for an end to gender-based violence.

Twenty-eight women have been violently killed in Australia since the start of the year, according to the advocacy group Destroy the Joint’s project Counting Dead Women.

Karen Bevan, CEO of Full Stop Australia, an organisation supporting people who experience sexual, family, or domestic violence, said government investment failed to match the scale of the

.

“Two weeks ago we were talking about a national emergency and the need for a comprehensive investment in women’s safety. From that we saw and acknowledged some important first steps,” she said.

“But that is where progress stopped. This budget has failed to continue driving important and necessary change.”

Bevan said more investment is needed for frontline services as well as response and recovery programs.

“There is no new funding for frontline services, particularly for specialist sexual violence services,” she said.

“There are huge funding gaps across response and recovery programs, which is where the critical work is done providing support to victim-survivors.”

National violence prevention organisation Our Watch welcomed the safety and gender equality measures in the budget, but said there is an opportunity for further investment across all parts of the system.

“Violence against women is a national emergency. The last few months have again shown how urgent this issue is across the community,” CEO Patty Kinnersley said.

“This means significant government leadership and investment are needed to keep women safe.”

What is in the 2024 budget for women’s safety?

Investments in the 2024 budget bring total funding to support women’s safety and the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 to over $3.4 billion.

In addition to the Leaving Violence Program, $44.1 million has been allocated in 2024-25 to support the National Legal Assistance Partnership and Family Violence Prevention Legal Services.

The budget also provides $19.4 million over two years to establish a National Student Ombudsman to help eradicate gender-based violence from universities, and 18.7 million over four years to establish a National Higher Education Code to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence.

There will be $13.1 million in targeted investments to support refugee and migrant women, and $11.7 million over two years to extend the First Nations Family Dispute Resolution pilot.

The Age Assurance Pilot to Protect Children from Harmful Online Content will receive $6.5 million in 2024-2025.

Over the next five years, the government will provide $9.6 million to further support informed policy advice to end gender-based violence.

Though the budget committed some funding to community legal centres, legal assistance programs dedicated to women affected by gender-based violence have been left short-changed, Women’s Legal Services Australia found.

According to the organisation, their services turn away 52,000 women every year due to a lack of resources.

The organisation’s chair Elena Rosenman called the budget a step backwards.

“This budget means many women’s legal services will have to start planning to reduce services to women experiencing gender-based violence,” she said.

“If we are asking Australian women to trust that the system will be there for them when they flee a violent relationship, we must ensure they can access the trauma-informed, integrated legal services they need.”

SBS News has contacted Women’s Minister Katy Gallagher’s office for comment.

With additional reporting by Australian Associated Press

If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, text 0458 737 732, or visit

. In an emergency, call 000.

, operated by No to Violence, can be contacted on 1300 766 491.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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