Family and domestic violence victims left out in the cold in State budget cut

May 15, 2022 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

Family and domestic violence victims left out in the cold in State budget cut.

The cuts to the preventing and responding to family and domestic violence budget are cruel and putting our most vulnerable women and children at further risk, according to the Opposition.

“At a time when the the McGowan Labor Government is sitting on a $5.7 billion pile of cash, it’s appalling that the budget for family and domestic violence has been slashed by 17%.

“It defies belief that the government has chosen to cut services for these women and children, many of whom have fled dangerous and often life-threatening situations and find themselves homeless.”

According to the WA Police Force Annual 2021 report, FDV reports are 19.3% above the 5-year average with people in regional areas three times more likely to be exposed to FDV.*

“It’s well reported that our services for this vulnerable group are stretched with waitlists for counselling for some services doubling over the last 12 months.

“We also know that many refuges are at capacity as the housing crisis impacts women’s ability to find new homes.

“The priority housing waitlist is currently two years and some support agencies are reporting that women are making the difficult choice to stay in unsafe family houses to avoid homelessness.

“The McGowan Government has failed to fund the increased cost and demand for these services across the state, and instead has slashed the budget.

“It’s shocking, particularly as the rising cost of living and the lack of affordable housing means even more families are at crisis point.”

Ms Mettam said while she welcomed support for the provision of Family and Domestic Violence response teams and the additional FDV Hub in Armadale, there was real concern about unmet demand with existing services that were struggling to keep up.

“While some refuges have recently been offered five-year contracts, this has been for funding that was at pre-2017 levels. The spike in demand for services will mean some providers will have to fundraise, seek additional donations or cut the services they provide just to keep up.”

Ms Mettam said victims of family and domestic violence and the associated services in country areas were particularly vulnerable due to an exacertbated lack of regional housing support and supply.

“These challenges are underlined by the fact that the number of people experiencing homelessness in Perth and surrounds has increased by more than 52% since November 2020,” Ms Mettam said.

“The $400 electricity rebate will do little to support women and children who are seeking refuge and don’t have a home.”