The Australian government has announced 328 million Australian dollars (232.3 million U.S. dollars) in funding to combat domestic violence.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that a majority of the funding will be spent on frontline services, safe places for victims and prevention strategies. It represents the fourth and the final stage of the National Action Plan that was launched in 2010 and is the biggest funding commitment for any of the stages. Morrison also announced a new prevention strategy to target the negative attitudes that lead to violence. “Our Government’s first priority is to keep Australians safe. To hear the accounts of survivors, and see the statistics, it’s just not good enough,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “To stop violence against women, we need to counter the culture of disrespect towards women.” “A culture of disrespect towards women is a precursor to violence, and anyone who doesn’t see that is kidding themselves.”
Of the funding, 82 million Australian dollars (58 million U.S. dollars) will be spent on frontline services, about 62 million Australian dollars (43.9 million U.S. dollars) will go towards the national domestic violence hotline to meet demand and 78 million Australian dollars (55.2 million U.S. dollars) will be for safe places, which is expected to help an extra 6,500 women every year. According to Our Watch, the independent organization supported by the government to raise awareness of violence against women and their children, approximately one Australian woman is killed by a current or former partner every week.
One in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15. Paul Fletcher, the minister for families and social services, said that the government has spent 840 million Australian dollars (595 million U.S. dollars) to prevent domestic violence since it took power in 2013. “We will act against the different forms abuse can take, including preventing financial abuse and technology-facilitated abuse, and we have included specific measures targeted to address the risks faced by women with intellectual disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women,” he said. “Domestic violence is a risk that all women face – but we recognise that specific groups may have particular vulnerability, which is why there are specific targeted measures included in this package.”
The announcement was made one day after the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) announced 60 million Australian dollars (42.5 million U.S. dollars) to help victims of domestic abuse rebuild their lives. Labor’s scheme would fund 20,000 “flexible support packages” to help women feeling abusive relationship pay rent and buy furniture. “We need to invest in more support for women fleeing violence at home, so that financial barriers aren’t the reason victims are trapped in a violent relationship,” Bill Shorten, leader of the ALP, said in a statement on Monday. Responding to the government’s announcement on Tuesday, Our Watch chief executive officer Patty Kinnersly said the investment would make a significant difference. “Long-term, sustainable funding for primary prevention will help organisations like Our Watch continue to raise awareness, drive social change and support others to ensure we all live in a more gender equal society,” she told the Australian Associated Press.