Additional Investment and Support for Domestic and Family Violence Women’s Safety
- Australian Capital Territory
Fourth Action Plan actions
- Respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment
- 14 Deliver client-centred, trauma-informed, specialised and consistent support to victims and survivors of sexual violence.
- Improve support and service system responses
- 20 Improve access to suitable and safe accommodation within their communities for women who have experienced domestic, family and sexual violence.
What are we doing?
In 2021, the ACT Government announced an increase to the Safer Families Levy. From 2021-22, the Safer Families Levy will increase by $5 per year over four years, taking the Levy from $30 per household currently to $50 per household in 2024-25. This increases will allow the ACT to enhance our responses to sexual violence, as well as to continue to fund critical frontline service delivery and enable the community to contribute to vital responses to domestic and family violence in a tangible way. This recognises that preventing domestic, family, and sexual violence is a collective responsibility across our community. Over the next four years, the Levy commencing in 2021-22 budget. The Levy will deliver an estimated additional $30 million over four years to support and expand domestic, family, and sexual violence prevention and response initiatives. The total Safer Families Package will provide $35.9 million over four years.
Additional investments were also made in 2020 to support increased need and complexity of domestic and family violence cases as a result of COVID-19. Over $6 million in funding from both the ACT and Commonwealth governments was allocated to support people facing homelessness or domestic and family violence arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. This supplemented existing service funding.
The funding allowed the specialist homelessness sector and domestic and family violence services to expand operational capacity and relieved some of the pressure of additional need during COVID-19 and throughout winter.
What have we achieved so far?
Funding in the 2021-22 budget will deliver expanded programs through an increase to the Safer Families Levy, including:
- $2.2 million over four years for more frontline domestic violence and rape crisis services through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre and the Domestic Violence Crisis Centre to meet increased service demand.
- $4.1 million over four years for the Health Justice Partnerships program consisting of much needed lawyers across Legal Aid and Women’s Legal Centre to help women presenting in health and hospital settings, and for the evaluation of the program.
- $817,000 over four years for the private rental assistance program for people experiencing domestic and family violence to give vital financial assistance to women escaping family violence.
- $1.4 million over four years including provisioned funding of $698,000 in 2023-24 and 2024-25 for the Safer Families Collaboration Program, which consists of two full-time staff in the Domestic Violence Crisis Service to work with our ACT Child Youth Protection Services, as well as funding for the Safe and Together Institute to deliver specialised capability building to frontline child protection workers.
- $790,000 over four years to scope and design domestic and family violence responses for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, in response to the We Don’t Shoot Our Wounded Report. This will include sitting fees for the Domestic Violence Prevention Council Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reference group.
- $249,000 for the Family Violence Safety Action Pilot, to expand integrated case work capacity and coordinated effort to meet increased demand on services to better respond to the needs of high-risk families.
- $400,000 over four years to continue funding Women’s Safety Grants.
- $1.5 million over four years for our landmark Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program to deliver working in partnership with our stakeholders and our community development of a robust approach to sexual assault in Canberra that focusses on prevention, response, law reform, and workplace safety.
Funding allocated in 2020, including Commonwealth funding, supported areas including:
- Increasing capability to respond to domestic and family violence
- Responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
- Increasing the capacity of OneLink and specialist homelessness service providers
- Victim support counselling and case management
- Temporary care of children
- Support for young people
- Support for frontline service delivery
- Integrated risk assessment, case management and coordination through a new Family Violence Safety Action Pilot
Perpetrator standards and information sharing.
What is next?
The ACT Government will continue to work with the Commonwealth government to agree funding under the National Partnership on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses 2021-23.
The ACT Government will continue to work with local specialist service providers and community organisations to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s safety. Funding will balance the need for crisis support with the importance of investment in early support and prevention. These principles will inform the ACT’s contributions to the development of the next National Plan.
The ACT Government is also committed to continue working with all Commonwealth, state and territory governments to monitor and respond to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.
What difference will we make?
We know the ACT specialist domestic and family violence and homelessness sectors have experienced an increase in demand and/or increase in complexity of cases due to COVID-19. We have also heard that the impacts of COVID-19 are resulting in an increase in risk of homelessness and concerns of women and children’s health and safety in short-term accommodation. We know the pandemic will leave long-term impacts, and we commit to continue monitoring and working with the sector in responding to the impacts of domestic and family violence in our community.