COVID-19 Funding Boost for Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic Violence

Co-written by: Chelleste Blackburn (Paralegal)

KEY TAKEOUTS

  • Domestic and family violence services now have the opportunity to apply for a share of a $9 million grant in Federal Government funding.
  • This response is timely and important to ensure more women, men and children will be able to access essential and vital support.
  • The need for funding in this area is greater than ever before as the pandemic has caused critical domestic violence support centres and services to be inundated with calls for help.
  • Every individual has the right to feel safe and comfortable in their environment, this funding will help achieve this.

Domestic and family violence services have experienced increased demand as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. These services now have the opportunity to apply for a share of a $9 million grant in Federal Government funding. Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Mark Speakman said the COVID19 Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence Grant program aimed to ensure more victim-survivors can access the support and services needed during this crucial time. The periods of lockdown and quarantine have been especially hard on those suffering from domestic violence as it can exacerbate the situation and make victims feel even more isolated.

As stated by Mr Speakman, “Many of our dedicated services have moved quickly to innovate and adapt their supports during the pandemic – when women and children may have struggled to access help, I strongly encourage organisations to apply for this funding, whether it be to launch a new program or expand or adapt an existing one to ensure victim-survivors can access support.” This new program offer one off grants between $20,000 and $150,000 to eligible services. A report released by the Australian Institute of Criminology last month revealed an increase in domestic violence during the pandemic. Many victims reported this period as the first time their partner had been violent towards them. Survivors of domestic violence often contact frontline services for initial advice and assistance before they decide to go to police. This highlights the importance of this new program. Mr Speakman advised “it’s so important these organisations have the necessary capacity to deliver appropriate supports to those most in need.”

This announcement follows the $21 million investment in frontline domestic violence support services delivered by the federal and NSW Governments in May. This response is timely and important to ensure more women, men and children will be able to access essential and vital support. Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said “A safe home is something many of us take for granted. Boosting domestic violence support is crucial for protecting women and children across the state when they need it most,”. The need for funding in this area is greater than ever before as the pandemic has caused critical domestic violence support centres and services to be inundated with calls for help. This funding will also allow further specialist services with more flexibility to respond to the nuanced needs of the communities.

Interim Domestic Violence NSW CEO Delia Donovan has said the funding boost is welcomed by the organisation which is NSW’s peak body for specialist domestic violence services. Ms Donovan stated, “Never has the need been greater, than in this current pandemic, to ensure women and their children experiencing domestic and family violence can access critical support and services,”. Over the past few months, the number of women seeking help has increased significantly along with the complexity of cases. Services have faced these challenges while having to adapt the delivery of their programs and services to the new COVID19 restrictions. The funding boost that is now available to them will allow them to continue to provide necessary help to those in need and create more specialised responses and programs to suit the changing needs of victims.

Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston has said the additional support secured with this funding will help allow people to live their lives free from abuse and violence. “The funding is part of the Federal Government’s $150 million investment to boost domestic violence supports and services during COVID-19 – from counselling and helpline provisions to behaviour change programs and emergency accommodation,” Ms Ruston said. “We’ve been working closely with the States and Territories to deliver this funding to dedicated services on the frontline who work tirelessly to support vulnerable victim-survivors across the country.” This funding will allow individuals to have access to localised place-based solutions and adequate support in their time of need.

The grant applications have now opened and will close at 5pm on Wednesday the 23rd of September 2020. The COVID19 Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence Grant program has provided a source of light and highlighted a positive response from the NSW government towards domestic violence victims and their needs. Every individual has the right to feel safe and comfortable in their environment, this funding will help achieve this. Especially during the COVID19 pandemic, it is an important and valuable response to the current crisis.


ABOUT LUISA GAETANI:

Luisa Gaetani

Luisa is a Senior Associate at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers and head of our Family and Criminal Law divisions. Luisa has practiced solely in the areas of criminal and family law. It is her sensitive yet pragmatic approach that has allowed her to develop a strong rapport and build trusting relationships with her clients. Should a client’s matter proceed to court, Luisa has the skillset and experience to assist her clients through this process and where required, will draw upon her network of barristers to further benefit her client’s outcomes.


For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Luisa Gaetani
Senior Associate
luisa@couttslegal.com.au
1300 268 887

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