The Victorian government is ramping up its spending on family violence, using significant “efficiency” savings to help implement every recommendation made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
So large is the investment in addressing family violence in this year’s Budget — dedicating $1.9 billion over four years towards the problem — that the Victorian government believes it will spend more in the coming year than all the other states and the Commonwealth combined.
The spend will be partly funded by public sector efficiency measures, which the government hopes will save $1.2 billion over four years.
Each department will need to figure out where the money will come from, but the government says it expects savings across administration, procurement, communications, consultancies and staffing.
“Whole of government efficiencies” will save around $200 million in 2017/18, according to the Budget papers, then $300 million in 2018/19, $300 million in 2019/20 and $400 million in the distant 2020/21 financial year. This will primarily mean slower growth in spending, rather than cuts to existing jobs, and will not impact on service delivery, according to the government.
New prevention agency, support hubs
The family violence package includes almost $450 million to establish 17 support and safety hubs across the state, serve as a visible contact point for survivors.
Information sharing efforts will be given a boost, with $101 million for a Central Information Point to ensure various agencies are able to share information necessary to keep victims safe.
A new prevention agency will be created to guide implementation of and monitor the state’s Free From Violence plan, which forms part of a $50.7 million investment in family violence prevention. This will include funding for behavioural change campaigns, testing new approaches in workplaces and building on community prevention partnerships.
This will draw on Victoria’s experience with existing prevention initiatives such as VicHealth’s anti-smoking campaign and the Transport Accident Commission’s work to make roads safer.
The justice system will be reformed, with the creation of five specialist family violence courts, costing $269 million. Ageing IT systems in the children’s and magistrate’s courts will be replaced and legal services for victims will be expanded.
The government will also spend just under $6 million to support implementation of Safe and Strong, the state’s gender equality strategy launched in December.
There is also $95 million to develop the skills and knowledge of Victoria’s social services and justice workforces to ensure they are well-trained to deal with family violence. This will include money to establish a Centre for Workplace Excellence to assist in this job.