News & Events

A move towards equity

December 7, 2020

Emerge applauds the Victorian 2020/21 budget, saying it is a move towards equity and provides many opportunities to ensure that women who been so impacted by COVID-19 are not further left behind.

“This is a budget towards equity, and provides funding for family violence organisations such as Emerge to do more for the many more women and children who were greatly affected by the coronavirus,” Paula Westhead, EO of Emerge, said.

Between March to May 2020, 59% of family violence service practitioners reported an increase in the frequency of violence against women, 50% reported an increase in the severity, and 86% reported an increase in the complexity of cases.

“The pandemic has emphasised the complexities of addressing all forms of violence against women in our society,” Paula said.

The budget includes

  • $18 millionfor family violence refuge responses, which will enhance case management and other operational costs
  • $9.7 millionto prevent and respond to family violence earlier, including culturally diverse communities.
  • $1.9 millionfor a specialist family violence integrated court response, which will expand the successful family violence remote hearing service pilot to 10 locations across Victoria, enabling victim survivors and witnesses to provide testimony remotely and safely.
  • $1.6 million for family violence reform oversight, which will provide funding to continue the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor. This function monitors, reviews and reports on the progress of implementing recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

“While Emerge, we hope, stands to benefit from some of this funding, we believe that the allocations to support culturally diverse communities, improved family violence court responses and reform are well targeted,” Paula said.

Emerge also supported the $5 million investment into the development of a pilot program to provide sick pay for casual and insecure workers.

“Many women we support or have supported fall into this category, and we would welcome their involvement in the design of the program,” Paula said.

She added that the major spending items, such as the $5.3 billion investment in affordable housing, $2.9 billion to implement a COVID-19 health response, $869 million for mental health, and $2 million for the Breakthrough Victoria research fund, would make a big difference to women and families who have escaped family violence and have been made homeless as a result or are seriously traumatised.“The devil is in the detail, and we have to make sure that these initiative are tailored to ensure that women who have fled family violence benefit from them, have access to new services and programs and have the opportunity to equally participate,” Paula said.

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