How Victoria is taking some responsibility for family violence

Victoria’s new government is taking a proactive approach to family violence. But the successes of the past decade have shown just how difficult it is to implement a well-functioning policy.

Forty-four people died in incidents of family violence in Victoria in 2013 — in a state widely regarded to be at the frontline of Australian policy responses over the last 15 years. There’s a long way to go.

With the spotlight shining on domestic violence brighter than ever, what Victoria does next is being keenly watched by campaigners and policymakers around the country. The new Labor government made the issue an election pledge, enshrining ministerial responsibility, expanding bureaucratic resources and launching a royal commission into a tragic history.

The government created the position of Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, held by Fiona Richardson, and moved the Office of Women’s Affairs into the Department of Premier and Cabinet, fulfilling two recommendations made by the No More Deaths campaign, a coalition of anti-domestic violence non-government organisations, prior to the election. Last week, it released the terms of reference for its royal commission.

Labor has, however, postponed the $150 million announced by the previous government as part of the ending violence against women and children strategy, pending the outcomes of the royal commission. Though they have replaced some of the money, there is concern this will leave important services underfunded in the interim.

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