Federal government must provide adequate funding for family violence services

Women’s Health West have written to our local Federal Members of Parliament to ensure the government does not effectively cut funding to our family violence services in the forthcoming federal budget.

We have written to our local Federal MPs, asking for their urgent support to ensure that the Commonwealth Government fully fund the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) supplementation to avoid an effective cut to our family violence services.

The Federal Government has renewed its commitment to ERO funding for services directly funded by the Federal Department of Social Services, as well as for the community legal sector, but has not made a commitment to renew ERO funding to services funded via the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA).

The NHHA is a commonwealth-state agreement under which family violence services are funded. If this funding is not renewed, it will result in staff losses and a subsequent reduced ability to support women and their children who are experiencing violence in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Demand for family violence services is not decreasing as COVID-19 restrictions ease. Yet the loss of core funding seriously limits our ability to provide timely services to help women and children find safety following an assault in their home, let alone support healing and recovery from the long term impacts of family violence.

Following advocacy in early 2020 the Victorian State Government committed to rolling the ERO funding supplementation into base funding for all funds received. This means that we will receive the state government component, but not the federal component.

It appears that the Federal Government is currently attempting to rectify their appalling record at keeping women safe, in response to gendered violence and inequality in parliament highlighted by Brittany Higgins and others, and demanded through the March 4 Justice rallies.

It is vital that the Federal Government provide adequate funding to services like Women’s Health West, who deal on a daily basis with the worst impacts of gendered violence.