The ACT Women’s Plan 2016-26 sets out the ACT Government’s ongoing commitment to work in partnership with non-government organisations, business and the broader community towards gender equality in the ACT.
The 2019-20 ACT Budget invests in policies, programs and services that will both directly and indirectly impact upon the lives of women and girls in the ACT. As part of our efforts to lead by example, we are also investing in measures that will specifically progress gender equality.
Developing this year’s ACT Women’s Budget Statement delivers an important action as part of the First Action Plan 2016-19, under the ACT Women’s Plan 2016-26.
Last year’s Budget provided funding for the Office for Women to undertake close engagement with the ACT community to inform the Second Action Plan 2020-22, and this work will continue through the next year. Consultation will proceed with the assistance of the Ministerial Advisory Council for Women, and community organisations to keep building on the themes identified so far to ensure that the Second Action Plan delivers the outcomes that the community needs.
We welcome your feedback
This is the first ACT Women’s Budget Statement for some years and we are keen to produce an even better statement next year. Please provide your feedback on ideas to strengthen the information presented by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or speaking to the Office for Women on 6205 0515.
Health and wellbeing
Some health issues are particularly important for women’s wellbeing. The ACT Government is committed to establishing facilities and processes to meet the health needs of women and girls in the ACT. Through this year’s Budget we are investing:
- $52.7 million in capital and $39.5 million in recurrent funding to expand the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children which will deliver improved paediatric and neonatal services for high needs children and babies and provide for additional and better integrated maternity services.
- $2.1 million to develop a Territory-wide approach to service delivery for expectant mothers under a ‘one public maternity system’ model.
- $771,000 to establish a Transvaginal Mesh Review Service to provide ongoing support and clinical care for women affected by transvaginal mesh procedures.
- $2.2 million to establish an Eating Disorders Specialist Clinical Hub and a non-government organisation operated, community-based support service to increase the capacity and range of eating disorder services in the ACT.
- $1.3 million for Nurses and Midwives: towards a Safer Culture, a Territory-wide response to mitigate occupational violence and aggression experienced by staff, patients and visitors to ACT public health services. This will initially focus on better understanding the extent of the problem, before developing targeted safety measures.
Strengthening the representation of women in male dominated workplaces and arenas provides access to opportunities that women have traditionally been denied. The ACT Government actively supports women in traditionally male-dominated roles and sectors to ensure that they have an equal opportunity to participate.
This year’s Budget provides $678,000 to ensure that the ACT Fire and Rescue Service can meet its current and future staffing levels. The proposed recruit colleges will aim for 50 per cent female recruits with spaces specifically reserved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander candidates.
This year’s Budget also provides funding of $1.8 million to see the ACT host five Women’s T20 World Cup matches in Canberra in February 2020. This will ensure that women and girls can see and support elite female cricketers playing in this prestigious cricket tournament.
Safe and supported
Women and girls have a fundamental right to feel safe in their homes and communities. Preventing domestic and family violence and improving the safety of women in public spaces are critical to women’s equal and full participation. Reflecting community feedback, the ACT Government is committed to putting in place measures to reduce the incidence of violence against women and girls.
Over the next four years, this year’s Budget provides $24 million in Safer Families Initiatives.
- $4.2 million to continue the Room4Change program for up to four more years, as part of its efforts to shift the family violence response from being largely crisis driven to a prevention and early intervention response.
- $813,000 to establish a permanent ACT Family Violence Death Review, which will make recommendations to prevent the likelihood of domestic violence deaths occurring in the future.
- $2.5 million for Frontline Worker Training to unpack the drivers of domestic and family violence in our society and increase the understanding that gender inequality is a critical factor for domestic and family violence to occur.
- $354,000 to work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to develop family-centred responses to family violence to specifically support families impacted by violence, prevent and de-escalate family violence and, where appropriate, divert men who use violence from the justice system.
- $300,000 to continue the Family Safety Hub pilot of a free legal information service for pregnant women experiencing domestic or family violence, reflecting the ACT Government’s commitment to delivering people-centred initiatives.
- $35 million for Boosting Police for a Growing City by recruiting more than 60 additional officers and supporting ACT policing to move towards a new, more community-focused model of policing. As part of this investment we will support preparatory work to establish and trial a new Fixated Threat Assessment Capability in the ACT with officers from ACT Policing and Canberra Health Services, where someone has an unhealthy obsession with another person or cause. This year’s Budget also funds physical security measures such as CCTV and pedestrian safety barriers to enhance the safety of Canberra’s public places, venues and events.
Access to justice is an ACT Government priority and ensuring that women have access to relevant legal assistance is an opportunity for achieving substantive equality. Over the next four years, this year’s Budget provides:
- $265,000 to increase the capacity in community legal centres: Women’s Legal Centre, Environmental Defender’s Office and Care Inc.
- $5.8 million to establish the Better Supporting Vulnerable Witnesses Initiative and continue to implement criminal law reform recommendations arising from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, by establishing an intermediary scheme in the ACT. An intermediary is an independent communication specialist whose role is to assist people to provide their best evidence to police and to the court. Women are likely to use the scheme more than men, due to higher rates of sexual and violent assault.
Supporting all women and their children
While issues resulting from gender inequality impact all women in some way, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, or may be subject to multiple layers of discrimination.
To ensure diversity and difference are celebrated and supported instead of being obstacles to full participation in our community, this year’s Budget also invests:
- $87,000 in 2019-20 to better align the services and supports provided through the ACT public health system with the needs of LGBTIQ+ Canberrans.
- $1.3 million to further respond to the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse relating to the health sector. This will support the implementation of the Child Safe, Child Friendly and Child Aware Framework across all ACT hospitals and health services, in response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations on keeping children safe in all institutional contexts.
The ACT Government is also committed to ensuring that women who interact with our justice system are supported to improve their lives. That’s why we are investing:
- $5.1 million over the next four years for initiatives to reduce recidivism in the ACT by 25 per cent by 2025. This includes funding for an ACT Bail Support Program for proactive case management to reduce the number of people and time spent on remand and to progress work towards a program to prevent or delay recidivist offenders.
- $13.1 million over the next four years to establish a Supported Transitional Justice Housing Program across the ACT to reduce reoffending and overcrowding at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. This program will provide five dwellings for Women’s Bail Accommodation Transition Support Services, to ensure that women eligible for release on bail have suitable support accommodation options, where this may not be available otherwise.
- $1.1 million over the next four years to expand the Justice Health Services at the Alexander Maconochie Centre to provide a targeted opiate replacement treatment service and a range of additional drug and alcohol services.