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Women’s Health West call for new money in state budget for family violence response and prevention

9 May 2014

Women’s Health West is stunned at the government’s budget response to the overwhelming demand for family violence services here in the western region.

“Family violence costs the Victorian economy over $3.4 billion per year. It makes fiscal and moral sense to move family violence up the budget priority list,” said Women’s Health West CEO, Dr Robyn Gregory.

The additional $1.1m per year over four years to expand high-risk pilot strategies is welcome, but minuscule compared to $300m in new money allocated to the much smaller but more visible problem of public transport crime.

“This budget provides no additional funds for family violence services to respond to women in crisis despite 29 family violence deaths in Victoria last year, including the devastating murder of Fiona Warzywoda in Sunshine in April.

“There is no provision for the essential work of preventing violence in the first place.

“Since 2009-10 demand for WHW’s family violence services has increased by 150 per cent with a 25 per cent increase in funding.

“Women in the west are particularly at risk of violence. Victoria Police statistics show that 3 of the 7 municipalities in the region have a higher rate of reported family violence than the state average.

Dr Robyn Gregory is dismayed at having to tell staff that there is no relief in sight to deal with their continuously increasing workloads. “It seems like our work, like women’s experience of family violence, is completely invisible to government.”

Women’s Health West’s submission to Treasury outlined the funds required for the region:

  • For every additional $100,000 WHW can provide case management to 48 more women and their children each year. We recommended an increase of $211,220 in 2014/15 but received nothing.
  • For every additional $150,000 in funding to our children’s counselling program, WHW can provide counselling to 90 more children each year. We recommended an increase of $166,676 in 2014/15 but received nothing.
  • We recommended an extra $60,000 in 2014-15 to develop and implement enhanced case management plans for 54 children exposed to extreme family violence but received nothing.
  • We recommended an increase of $50,000 in 2014-15 to deliver targeted primary prevention programs to at-risk populations but received nothing.

We congratulate the state government for taking the lead on committing to another four years of funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, which assists hundreds of family violence victims here in the west. We can only hope that additional family violence funds will be made available in the lead up to the state election.

 MEDIA: For more information contact Nicola Harte, Communications Manager on 9689 9588 or email nicolah@whwest.org.au