THERE are some positives in Hannah Knight's story on page 7 today about family violence.
One, there is greater reporting of family violence and two, policing practices and protocols surrounding family violence have changed for the better.
Chief commissioner Ken Lay last year labelled crimes against the person in family violence situations as an "insidious problem'' and the most significant community issue facing Victorians.
He wants it to be stamped out and there is no doubt that is the message filtering down through the ranks with a 50 per cent increase in police referrals to the Bendigo-based Centre for Non Violence alone from June, 2011 to June, 2012.
But with an increase in referrals to agencies supporting women and children fleeing violent situations, there is greater demand on those services.
The positive again is that many of those agencies are providing outstanding services to survivors.
But they are now being asked to do so without increased funding or resources.
In a report last week to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, 105 non-government organisations (including the Bendigo-based Centre for Non Violence, Centre Against Sexual Assault and Annie North women's refuge) and six federal government funded national women's alliances called for real commitment from all levels of government to the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women (2010-2022).
The report was compiled at the request of the CEDAW committee, which asked the Australian government to report back in 2012 about actions taken to implement the committee's recommendations on violence against women. Overall, the report stated that there was a need for immediate and proper investment in vital services for all women and children who have experienced or are experiencing violence and abuse and a stronger focus on long-term, sustained primary prevention to address the root causes of violence against women and girls.
Today's report leaves no doubt this is the case.
The Centre for Non Violence is now having to prioritise based on risk and safety and funding shortfalls mean the centre is having to be more specialised in its responses. The report to the CEDAW identifies funding as a key issue noting there were no new funding commitments for addressing violence against women and children in the 2012 federal budget.
"Increasing awareness and understanding of violence against women through prevention activities will increase demand for services.
"The current turn-away rate or refuge, shelter beds and specialist support is one-in-two on any given day, and there can be long waiting lists for sexual assault counselling and legal services.
"There is an urgent need for funding for specialist services which have not received growth funding in two decades. Some specialist organisations have not had any core, or ongoing funding, from any level of government.''
This is simply not good enough.
All levels of government need to commit to the National Plan, for so many reasons.
But importantly, to protect women and children living through family violence and to commit funds to drive long-term social change.
It's only through changing attitudes and creating gender equality that this can happen.
Nicole Ferrie is the Bendigo Advertiser's deputy editor.
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