Urgent support for frontline domestic violence services

The Morrison Government will provide $32.5 million to states and territories to immediately bolster frontline services to protect those most at risk of domestic violence as a result of living changes enforced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This week Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne and Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston chaired the inaugural Council of Australian Governments Women’s Safety Council.

It was agreed that, as a priority, funding should be directed to safer housing and emergency accommodation, counselling and outreach, crisis support and helplines as well as men’s behavioural change programs and other perpetrator interventions.

Minister Payne said that another key priority area was assisting frontline services to explore new technology-based support methods.

“Given these unprecedented circumstances we know there will be a need for many frontline services to transition to online or telephone-based services,” Minister Payne said.

“These changes need to be carefully managed to ensure that services can best manage the safety and privacy of women seeking support.”

Minister Ruston said we need to ensure homes could be made as safe as possible given the direction to stay home to control the spread of the coronavirus.

“But we are also acutely aware that there will be significant need for emergency accommodation that is innovative and flexible particularly in light of health requirements for quarantine and self-isolation that may prevent women and children being able to stay with friends or family,” Minister Ruston said.

This initial round of funding includes a fixed 3 per cent payment to all states and territories with the remainder provided on a per capita basis with a small contingency set aside. The money will flow this month to support services through to June 30, 2020.

“We have reflected in the funding model the unique challenges in regional, rural and remote locations,” Minister Ruston said.

Under the Morrison Government’s $150 million response package we will continue to work with states and territories to monitor the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and allocate the further $97.5 million over the next six months to where it is most needed.

Minister Payne and Minster Ruston thanked the states and territories for their commitment to work collaboratively to make sure women and children were best supported during this time.

$20 million has already been committed to Commonwealth funded initiatives including 1800RESPECT, Mensline and a new national information campaign with clear information on where Australians experiencing violence during this period can access support.