Bendigo family violence services have slammed the federal budget, describing the $100 million allocated to tackling the crisis a “huge disappointment.”
Just over $33 million will be distributed each year for three years from 2016-17.
Meanwhile, the Victorian government will spend $572 million on tackling the issue. The housing blitz portion of its package exceeds the total federal family violence spend by $52 million.
Money for community legal centres has been cut by 30 percent from July 1 next year, and there is no further funding listed for the national partnership on homelessness beyond the $115 million the government plans to spend in 2016-17.
Annie North Women’s Refuge chief executive Julie Oberin said the federal budget was “disgraceful.”
“If the federal government is committed to the issue, they need to fund it,” she said. “This is worse than lip service.”
She said $33.3 million a year barely covered the amount the government had spent on an anti-family violence television campaign it was airing, and queried where the money would come from to continue it.
“The messages behind that advertisement need to be circulated throughout all parts of society for about a decade if it is going to change perceptions in the community,” Ms Oberin said.
She encouraged people to raise the issue with their local member: “And they need to think very hard about it when they go to vote.”
Centre for Non-Violence chief executive officer Margaret Augerinos said the federal budget would not help the service meet or manage demand.
“Every time you air an advertisement, it drives up demand for our local services, and if our services are being cut on the one hand, and yet there are more women wanting support, it leaves you wondering what their priorities are,” she said.
She said the service already had to turn people away – “and that is a horrible thing for us to have to do.”
“If we are not getting that direct support from the government, we can not assist every woman who seeks support from us.”
ARC Justice executive officer Peter Noble said community legal centres were struggling to meet demand for services with the existing level of funding.
“It is scandalous in the face of the productivity commission report, which said to government an additional $200 million was required immediately to meet the basic justice needs of Australians,” he said.
“The federal government has really failed to properly fund the legal system services in this region and in the Goulburn Valley region, and we experience some of the lowest federal funding in regional Victoria.”