Investing in Safer Families
A fresh focus in the 2019-20 ACT Budget
Domestic and family violence is a pervasive social problem, impacting individuals, families and indeed the entire community.
The ACT Government remains absolutely committed to the prevention of family violence, including domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Safer Families package was an historic investment in the 2016-17 budget of over $21 million. That same year, the $30 Safer Families Levy was introduced as part of our community-wide contribution to tackle family and domestic violence and importantly to provide an ongoing revenue base to fund long-term system reform and service improvements.
2019 is the fourth year of implementing the first phase of Safer Families commitments that were originally funded in 2016.
These first phase initiatives have built an important foundation to strengthen the capacity of frontline services, improve coordination across Government and to test promising new approaches.
Some of the early initiatives will now be transitioned out of the Safer Families package funding envelope after 2019-20. Directorates will be reviewing these initiatives to determine the best approach for the future.
Transitioning these initiatives out of the Safer Families package creates funding capacity for new initiatives. Into the future, the Safer Families package will prioritise funding for initiatives that:
- build whole-of-Government and multi-agency domestic and family violence capability, coordination and supporting infrastructure;
- improve the capacity of front-line domestic and family violence services to meet increased demand; and
- test new approaches, particularly those generated through the Family Safety Hub, in order to demonstrate the feasibility and value.
The Government remains as committed as ever to Safer Families. In this 2019-20 Budget, the total Safer Families commitment will be $24 million over the four years from 2019-20. A range of new initiatives funded or extended under this approach include:
Training 21,000 ACT Government workers to respond to family violence
This training aims to build capability across the public service to recognise and respond effectively to domestic and family violence. $2.83 million has been allocated over four years to develop and deliver training so all government workers have a shared language and understanding of domestic and family violence and a common approach to assessing and managing the risks associated with this violence. Managers will receive additional training to equip them to promote a work culture of respect and safety and to understand how best to support workers experiencing domestic and family violence. This budget allocation is on top of the already allocated $770,000 provided in the 2016/17 budget.
Focusing on delivering family-centred responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families impacted by family violence
This initiative aims to support a partnership between government and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community for the development of community-led family-centred responses to domestic and family violence. $354,000 has been allocated over three years to address the complex issues identified in the We Don’t Shoot our Wounded and Change our Future – Share what you know reports.
Reducing the risk of deaths from family violence
This initiative aims to establish a permanent Domestic and Family Violence Death Review function for the ACT. Information relating to domestic and family violence deaths will be analysed in order to make recommendations for service and system-wide improvements that would prevent similar deaths occurring in the future. $831,000 has been allocated over four years to fund the establishment of the ACT Domestic and Family Violence Death Review. This initiative will allow the ACT to fully participate in the work of the national family violence death review network and share national data and learnings to reduce deaths through family violence.
Supporting pregnant women at risk of domestic and family violence
Evidence shows that one in five women whose partners use violence experience that violence during pregnancy. The Health Justice Partnership provides free and confidential legal advice in health care settings, particularly to vulnerable women who have multiple legal issues. The partnership, developed through the work of the Family Safety Hub, currently operates at Calvary Public Hospital, Gungahlin Child and Family Centre and the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children with the expertise of the Women’s Legal Centre and Legal Aid ACT. $300,000 has been allocated to extend this initiative for 12 months, allowing for time for it to be fully evaluated.
Extending the Room4Change program to help prevent family violence
Room4Change is a therapeutic residential men’s behaviour change program focused on preventing domestic and family violence that includes group work, one-on-one case management and accommodation for participants. Room4change also supports the partners and children to stay safely in the home while men are engaged in the six-month program. A further $4.243 million has been allocated over four years for this initiative to continue, allowing for time for it to be fully evaluated.
More information can be found by visiting the ACT Budget webpage at https://apps.treasury.act.gov.au/budget/budget-2019-20