The 2019-2020 Federal Budget has restated its previously made commitment to fund prevention and responses to domestic, family and sexual violence. Announced at the beginning of March 2019, the $328 million as the Our Investment in Women’s Safety (OIWS) package constitutes the Commonwealth contribution towards the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. This package will be spread across 8 portfolios and comprise of a broad range of measures.
The 2019-2020 Federal budget remains a document that is complicated to read due to its lack of transparency. It is hard if not impossible to track measures in relation to responding to violence against women (VAW). For instance, in addition to the announced OIWS Package, there are other measures aimed at funding responses to VAW. This includes either ongoing funding to particular Departments (eg. Grants within DSS) or other measures that fall outside the National Plan (eg. Legal assistance). Often they are hidden under names such as ‘special accounts’ or subsumed within the Departmental funding in the following years after the announcements are made. This makes it difficult to measure and track the commitment to reduce VAW across the whole of government, which appears to be greater than publicly made announcements. We need a comprehensive budget statement tracking spending across all portfolios in a way that enables year-on-year comparisons and states clearly where spending is going.
Overall, AWAVA has welcomed the OIWS package, in particular the investment into primary prevention. Yet, we reiterate recommendations that the efforts to address violence against women need to be holistic in their nature. An intersectional approach needs to be embedded within the forthcoming Fourth Action Plan as well as the Fourth Action Plan needs to address different forms violence can take, respond to the increasing service demand and prioritise the unique role special women’s services are playing in reducing violence against women.