Fair Agenda Blog

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Together, this election we kept the issues our community cares about in the headlines, and put them on the agenda for key candidates across the country. We were also able to work with experts to create an election scorecard showing how the parties compared on key issues affecting women, which our community then got in front of thousands of voters. Thank you for helping making that possible. 

The election results are still trickling in – but one thing is very clear: the Government is going to need the support of a number of Senate crossbenchers to pass much of its legislative agenda – including its proposed cuts to paid parental leave.

And thanks to Fair Agenda members – we have public commitments from key Senators to oppose any attempts to cut the current parental leave system. We won’t know for sure until the Senate counting is finalised in coming weeks, but right now it looks like there we are very, very close to having the 38 Senate votes needed to block any cuts.[1]

It’s great progress – and it’s only possible thanks to the tens of thousands of Fair Agenda members who have kept the pressure up over the past year – calling, emailing and meeting with key Senators and candidates to help secure commitments from 6 parties to block any cuts. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in that campaign over the past year. 

As well as campaigning to protect paid parental leave, this election our community worked tirelessly to keep funding for family violence services on the political agenda.

Together, we secured public support for full funding from key parties in the Senate; ensured the ALP publicly committed to deliver their $200 million funding package in addition to the $100 million committed by the Coalition (ensuring their commitment was boosted by $100 million); kept the issue of service funding in the headlines in the key election and budget weeks; and worked with key experts to ensure thousands of people knew how the parties compared on funding for family violence services.

The Fair Agenda community and our partners across the community helped make the continuing failure to adequate fund services so much of an issue that 53% of voters said funding for family violence services was influencing their vote this election;[2] and enough of a political issue that the Coalition re-announced parts of the funding package it had already launched in the May budget on three separate occasions during the election.[3]

Over the past ten weeks Fair Agenda has worked with survivor advocates and service workers to keep a media spotlight on the fact that thousands of women are being left without access to the service support they need to escape abuse; ensured the Government’s shocking changes to 1800 RESPECT featured on The Project; secured coverage of our family violence scorecard in Fairfax papers in the final days before the election; and worked with members to keep the pressure up. Coverage of our community's campaigns reached almost 1 million voters this election!

And, when Rosie Batty spoke at the National Press Club, highlighting the appalling Family Court rules that survivors of domestic violence can be forced to endure direct cross-examination at the hands of their abusers, we flooded both major parties with a call to make the change. Over months, Fair Agenda and our friends at Never Alone and Women's Legal Services Australia helped generate the community pressure needed to secure that commitment from the ALP.

There’s still much more to be done to win change on the issues our community cares about – but one thing is for sure – this election Fair Agenda members have proven we’re a powerful force for fairness and equality, and that we can keep issues on the media and political agenda. 

Thank you to all Fair Agenda members who contributed to our community's election efforts - this campaign was only possible thanks to the hundreds of people who chip in as member donors, meet with local candidates, sent emails to decision makers, put posters up, shared campaigns and gave their time to campaign actions.

Thanks for all the ways you contribute to the Fair Agenda community,

Renee for Fair Agenda

- More information -

1. Fair Agenda’s parental leave scorecard with commitments from Senators. Read with: Senate calculator: can you get legislation passed after the Australian election? The Guardian, 4 July 2016.

2. Federal election 2016: What Labor and Liberal are promising on domestic violence, Daily Life, 2016.

3. From the $100 million, 3 year package announced in the federal budget: Coalition announces $30 million for frontline services in Petrie on 12 May 2016. Coalition announces $25 million to address domestic violence in Indigenous communities, 20 June 2015.  Government announces $15 million for family violence, 21 June 2016.

Written by Renee Carr
15 July 2016
Meeting with Suzanne Grant

Like you, Cassie & Kate are Fair Agenda members concerned about threats to our paid parental leave system.[1] That’s why last week they met with Queensland Senate candidate Suzanne Grant, to find out if she would vote to protect parental leave if elected. 

As you are no doubt aware, for the past year the Coalition Government have been trying to make cuts to paid parental leave. And, for the past year, community campaigning has made it impossible for the Abbott and Turnbull Governments to pass those cuts through the Senate.

Unfortunately, despite huge community concern, the Coalition Government haven't abandoned their plans to make cuts to new parents' paid time at home; which means that if they are re-elected next month, we can expect they will again try to cut paid parental leave.[2] 

It means electing Senators committed to protecting new parents' time at home with their newborns is absolutely critical. 

Analysis is continuing to show that in our next parliament minor parties will again make up the Senate "crossbench" -- that's the group who generally end up with casting votes on any issue where the Government and Opposition are split.[3] With the Labor Party opposed to any cuts to our paid parental leave system, we can expect the minor parties will end up with the deciding votes on any proposed cuts.

The latest analysis suggests that in Queensland there are four candidates who might end up with one of the critical "crossbench" Senate seats: Suzanne Grant for the Nick Xenophon Team, Andrew Bartlett for The Greens, Glenn Lazarus from the Glenn Lazarus Team and Pauline Hanson from One Nation.[4]

Any of these candidates could end up with a key balance of power role in the next Senate. 

The Greens and Glenn Lazarus are already on the record as being opposed to any cuts to paid parental leave. 

That's why Cassie and Kate met with Ms Grant last week - to present thousands of signatures from Fair Agenda members like you who are opposed to cuts - and to find out whether Ms Grant would stand up for new parents' time at home if elected. 

They're pleased to report back that:

Suzanne Grant has confirmed that if elected she and the Nick Xenophon Team would not support any cuts to the paid parental leave system. 

Ms Grant also affirmed that she believes the current system should be treated as a minimum standard, and recognises that it is by no means close to world leading. She also noted that she and the Nick Xenophon Team would support expansion and flexibility within the current parental leave system, as long as it didn't reduce the amount of leave support available to any parent.

Cassie and Kate attended last week's meeting on behalf of thousands of Fair Agenda members like you. They wanted to report back on the outcome because they know that like us, many Fair Agenda members will be thinking about this issue when they cast their vote on the 2nd of July.

The Fair Agenda team are working to put together a scorecard summarising all of the parties' positions on this important issue. To make sure you receive a copy, sign up to the campaign here: http://www.fairagenda.org/ppl

-References-

1. Turnbull Government shelves changes to Paid Parental Leave, News.com.au, 6 April 2016.
2. Cuts to parental leave shaping up as an election issue, Women's Agenda, 7 April 2016.
3. Federal election 2016: Name recognition a key to Senate race, The Age, 5 June 2016.
4. Federal election 2016: Name recognition a key to Senate race, The Age, 5 June 2016.


Authorised by Renee Carr, Fair Agenda, Suite 103, 55 Holt Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.

Written by Renee Carr
15 June 2016
DV funding

This week the Government called a press conference to announce just $30 million of additional funding for legal assistance services to deal with family violence.

The Ministers declared that “adequate investment in frontline services is critical to save lives” – and then proceeded to announce vastly inadequate funding for those same services.

The woefully inadequate resourcing of family violence services is devastating and dangerous.

Attorney-General Brandis and Minister Cash announced the $30 million for legal assistance services ($10 million per year over three years) as part of the three-year $100 million package included in last week’s Federal Budget to implement the Third Action Plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children. 

“It has taken half a billion dollars to address service and system gaps in just one state. We need the federal government to match Victoria’s recent response. We need $4 billion of federal funding for family violence response over the next two years. Instead, the Government have chosen to leave thousands of women without access to the services they need to be safe.” said Moo Baulch, CEO of DV NSW.

“The Government has had a chance to prove it is taking this issue seriously; and it has failed.”

“Specialist services can’t keep up with referrals from police. Refuges can’t shelter all the women seeking their help. Community legal services are being forced to turn away women relying on their help. Specialist services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aren’t even funded to have national reach.” Ms Baulch added.

“This week’s Four Corners episode has shone a light on just how much the system is failing Aboriginal women. Yet our domestic violence services still aren’t funded even to provide national reach.” Says Antoinette Braybrook, Convenor of Family Violence Prevention Legal Service.

“It will take another $28 million per year to address unmet need for our service. Today’s announcement is completely inadequate to prevent Aboriginal women being murdered, and communities destroyed.” She added.

“This funding is manifestly inadequate no matter how it’s split up. How is $10 million extra each year supposed to address the massive unmet need across 189 Community Legal Centres, lack of national reach in FVPLSs, and family violence work in ATSILs and Legal Aid?” Adds Ms Carr, Fair Agenda.

“Women are coming to Community Legal Centres with an urgent need for legal help to keep their children safe; to address financial abuse; to get an appropriate intervention order in place; and for a range of other legal problems – and inadequate funding means we have to turn women away.” says Daniel Stubbs, National Spokesperson for the National Association of Community Legal Centres. 

“Today’s funding increase is good news – but it’s not enough to cover the funding cuts facing Community Legal Centres or meet increasing demand. Instead, Community Legal Centres - which are services that the Ministers have just recognised as being ‘critical to saving lives’ - are facing 30% funding cuts nationally.” He added. 

More than 37,000 community members and 100 organisations have signed onto Fair Agenda’s call for full funding of family violence services.

You can join the campaign for full funding of family violence services here: www.fairagenda.org/family_violence_services

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Renee Carr, media@fairagenda.org, 0435 597 976

 

Information on service funding needed

Domestic Violence NSW supports Domestic Violence Victoria’s call for the Federal Government to match Victoria’s per capita injection into family violence response – that’s an additional $4 billion over two years.

Specific service gaps:

  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services – a vital specialist service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who face a vastly increased risk of murder and hospitalisation as a result of family violence. Only 14 centres are funded nationally; leaving many women without access. They need an additional $28 million annual funding.
  • Community Legal Centres – help over 215,000 people each year and are forced to turn away more than 160,000 people a year, including women affected by family violence. Family violence and family law work are the top two areas of demand for CLCs across Australia. They need an additional $14.4 million funding this year; and a reversal of $34 million of cuts over the forward estimates.
  • Specialist domestic and family violence services – aren’t resourced to respond to all police referrals, or to meet demand for crisis or outreach work. The Victorian Government recently announced $103.9 million additional funding over two years to address need for this service area in just that one state.
  • Perpetrator programs - need $38 million funding to increase and expand perpetrator interventions.
Written by Renee Carr
12 May 2016

It was good to see Bill Shorten emphasise the importance of addressing family violence in his budget reply last night -- but unfortunately the Labor Party's commitment to 'ensure women are safe at home and supported in the courts' isn't yet matched by the funding needed to do that.

Right now thousands of women are being left without the support they need to escape their abusers because of inadequate federal funding. Specialist services still aren’t resourced to respond to all police referrals; refuges aren’t resourced to shelter all the women seeking their help; and legal assistance services are being forced to turn away women rely on their assistance.

Both Labor and the Coalition are paying lip service to the importance of treating family violence as a national priority. But so far both their funding commitments are woefully inadequate. 

Just weeks ago the Victorian Government announced $572 million of additional funding to address service and system gaps in just that one state. We need a similar scale of investment nationally – that's about $4 billion over two years.

Labor’s interim family violence funding package provides just ~$70 million over three years. That includes $42.9 million for community legal centres, $4.5 million for Family Violence Prevention Legal Services and funding for a number of other measures.

The Coalition's recent Federal Budget included an announcement of $100 million over three years to address violence against women and their children. While it appears some of that funding will go to legal assistance services, the details are not yet clear. The Government is standing by its plan to cut 30% of funding to community legal centres over the forward estimates. 

Labor’s declaration that they will reverse the cuts to Community Legal Centres is an important one for women affected by family violence. But just reversing those cuts isn’t enough to ensure all women will be supported in the courts.

Community Legal Centres aren’t currently receiving enough funded to keep up with current demand. They’re forced to turn away more than 160,000 people every year, including those trying to escape or recover from family violence.

So far neither major party has committed the funding needed to address existing unmet need, far less the increase expected as a result of the current COAG awareness campaign.

We need to keep speaking up and demanding that whoever is in government after the next election, they deliver full funding for family violence services – to ensure women aren’t left without the support they need to escape their abuser and to live safely.

So far more than 37,000 community members and 100 organisations have signed onto Fair Agenda’s call for full funding of family violence services. Will you join them? Join the campaign atwww.fairagenda.org/family_violence_services

Written by Renee Carr
06 May 2016

Last night’s budget included a funding increase of just $33 million next year to address violence against women and children – a woefully inadequate response to the family violence epidemic, and a decision that will have dangerous consequences for those affected by family violence.

The government has essentially decided to leave thousands of women without the service support they need to be safe.

Our Prime Minister has said that family violence is a national priority – but his budget announcements don’t reflect that. His decision to leave thousands of women without access to the services they need to live free from danger is devastating.

It’s good to see new funding committed, but let’s put this in perspective. Just weeks ago the Victorian Government announced $572 million (over two years) in additional funding just to address urgent family violence service and system gaps in that one state. What we needed last night was for the federal government to match that level of funding nation-wide -- that would have been $4 billion over two years.

Instead the federal government will continue to inadequately fund a range of critical services, including:

    • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services – a vital specialist service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who face a vastly increased risk of murder and hospitalisation as a result of family violence. Only 14 FVPLS centres are funded nationally; leaving many women without access. They need an additional $28 million to ensure women coverage nationwide.
    • Community Legal Centres – these help over 215,000 people each year and are forced to turn away more than 160,000 people a year, including women affected by family violence. Family violence and family law work are the top two areas of demand for CLCs across Australia. They not only didn’t receive the additional $14.4 million funding they need to meet this existing demand; the Turnbull government also maintained $34 million worth of cuts over the forward estimates. That means that from 2017 the capacity of community legal centres will be cut by 30%. That’s a devastating cut for a service that helps women navigate things like AVO processes, family law, child protection, and financial abuse.
    • Specialist domestic and family violence services – which aren’t resourced to respond to all police referrals, or to meet demand for crisis or outreach are expected to receive some fraction of the additional $33 million this year. To put that in context Victoria recently committed $103.9 million additional funding (over two years) to address funding deficiencies in this area in just one state.
    • Perpetrator programs - which need $38 million funding, also appear not to have additional funding.

The Treasurer has said that this government will ‘afford the things that need to be afforded’. Last night’s budget shows us that apparently keeping women safe doesn’t fall into that category. It’s absolutely critical that we as a community keep coming together to demand action on this issue, until it does.

Join Fair Agenda's campaign and take action here.

Written by Renee Carr
03 May 2016
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