Department forced to explain federal budget allocation for DV services

By Melissa Coade

Monday October 11, 2021

Michaelia Cash
Michaelia Cash said Finlay had been appointed without a public selection process. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Service providers of domestic violence (DV) support are still waiting to receive $17.1 million of a federal government package announced five months ago, with the Attorney-General’s department having to step in to manage expectations that the money will not be allocated as first thought. 

The family safety branch of the commonwealth A-G’s department has had to clarify a federal budget announcement that promised extra funding to tackle domestic and family violence in Australia. 

According to reports by The Guardian, state and territory governments will now be responsible for allocating the fund according to the national legal assistance partnership, contrary to the understanding that the government had committed an additional $150,000 a year to 21 existing DV services. The money was intended to pay for dedicated mental health support for women survivors who were clients of these services. 

Now, five months on from the initial budget announcement, and following questions from the sector, the AG’s department informed service providers by email that the ‘division of funding’ to each provider was unlikely to be the sum promised. Instead, it will amount to $150,000 for at least one provider in each jurisdiction and there is no clear timetable about when the fund will be released.

“We appreciate that the contextual information from the commonwealth may have given rise to expectations which may not ultimately reflect the funding allocation decisions by state and territory governments in practice,” an email from the department read. 

“For many providers, the division of funding will not be able to meet expectations of $150,000.”

A spokesperson for Attorney-General Michaelia Cash responded to questions about whether the funding announcement in May had been overblown, by saying that the issue was now a matter for the states. 

“States and territories are best placed to determine how to allocate funds to best meet legal need in their jurisdictions, as they are closer to service providers and the communities they support,” the spokesperson told The Guardian.

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