Fair Agenda Blog

The Labor Party have this morning re-affirmed their commitment to make changes in this area, and require judges to consider what should be done to protect vulnerable witnesses when family violence is alleged. But basic protections like this shouldn’t be contingent on which party is in government. 

That’s why we need to keep campaigning, and build the pressure on the Government to stop allowing survivors to be re-traumatised in court.

With this issue back in the headlines today, we have a critical opportunity to turn up the head on Government decision makers. 

Can you take a few minutes to email Minister for Women Michaelia Cash and Attorney-General Brandis to urge them to change the Coalition’s policy? 

Right now there are no protections in place to stop abusive ex-partners from cross-examining those they have abused in Family Court. For survivors like Eleanor, it means “I was forced to answer the questions of a man who had sexually assaulted and abused me for over a decade…. And that horrific experience was a major obstacle in my recovery from the trauma of my abuse.”

Last year Eleanor called on Fair Agenda members to stand with her, and community legal workers to call on our federal parliamentarians to make this change. More than 5,000 of us have answered that call so far. And in the lead up to the election we came together to flood the major parties with calls for change in this area. The pressure from Fair Agenda members and other community groups helped secure this pledge from the ALP.

We'll still need to see the detail of this proposal, and there are some concerns that judges will still have discretion to allow the practice - but this is a big step in the right direction.

Our campaign is working. That's why it’s critical we keep building the pressure around this issue. 

Click here for tips on what to send Minister Cash and Attorney-General Brandisor email them directly via: senator.cash@aph.gov.au and senator.brandis@aph.gov.au

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The full letter from ALP leader Bill Shorten to Fair Agenda members is available here and below:

Dear Renee and the Fair Agenda team,

I’m aware that Fair Agenda and your supporters, alongside advocates and experts, have been campaigning to stop violent perpetrators cross-examining survivors of domestic violence. Thank you for your work. I want to let you know that we are listening to you.

We have listened to the Productivity Commission, to advocates, and to experts, and Labor is taking action.

Today, on White Ribbon day, Terri Butler and I affirmed a plan that we will enact under a Labor Government. Right now, survivors of domestic violence are too often made to endure cross-examination from their violent ex-partners. That must no longer happen.

As Prime Minister, I will require judges to consider what should be done to protect vulnerable witnesses when family violence is alleged. And I'll equip them with the power and the resources to say enough is enough - no one should have to be re-traumatised by having their violent ex cross-examine them in the witness box. Labor will commit more than $43 million over four years to make sure this practice ceases.

Your advocacy is very important, and your advocacy is still needed. Malcolm Turnbull’s government is presiding over massive cuts to legal services - with a 30% funding cliff coming up in July. And his party continues to ignore your advocacy, the experts in the field, and the Productivity Commission; they are not taking action to reform cross-examination. This should not be a partisan issue. Please continue to push for these important measures, so that we don’t have to wait until the next election to resolve this problem.

On behalf of Terri Butler, Mark Dreyfus, Tanya Plibersek and all of my Labor colleagues, thank you again for getting in touch with us about this important issue. Please keep up your good work.

Yours sincerely

Bill Shorten MP
Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders 

 


*If you have been affected by sexual assault or domestic violence, you can access 24/7 counselling support at 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).*

Written by Renee Carr
23 November 2016

After more than a year of campaigning, we have the votes needed to stop the Government's planned cuts to paid parental leave in the new parliament!

38 Senate votes are needed to defeat any Government legislation in our Senate. Thanks to the election promises that Fair Agenda secured from the Nick Xenophon Team, Jacqui Lambie Network, The Australian Greens and Australian Labor Party there are now 39 Senators pledged to block the Government's plans to cut paid parental leave.

That means unless they break their promise - the Government's plan to cut parental leave won't be possible in this parliament.

For more than a year the Government has been trying to make cuts that would have dragged Australia's parental leave policy back in time; tearing precious time at home away from tens of thousands of working parents, and leaving workers like nurses, ambos, teachers and Woolies staff with access to just 18 weeks of paid leave (well below the 26 weeks recommended for health and welfare reasons).

But thanks to campaigning driven by thousands of Fair Agenda members and other community groups, the Government now won't be able to pass its planned cuts in this parliament.

It's a huge win for the tens of thousands of working parents who face having time at home with their newborn torn away - and it's only possible because of the efforts of thousands of Fair Agenda members like you.

It’s only possible thanks to the efforts of thousands of Fair Agenda members who have driven this campaign since Day 1. Members like Anna who launched the petition calling on other Fair Agenda members to stand with her in campaigning against the cuts… members like Trish, Kyla and Belinda who met with former Senator Glenn Lazarus and asked him to use his Senate vote to block the cuts… members like Heather and baby Luca who came to Parliament House and stood with Senator Lazarus and Senator Lambie as they committed the votes needed to block the legislation in the previous Parliament… and members like Sascha, Colleen, Cassie, Kate and baby Ella who met with election candidates and got them on the record on this issue.

Fair Agenda members have helped stop these cuts not once, not twice, but three times. It’s a testament to the power of our movement, and to our ability to drive change on the national stage.

Important campaigns like this are only possible thanks to the generous donations of Fair Agenda members. Can you chip in to help our community drive more change?

www.fairagenda.org/donate

Today's win is a massive victory for our community. But unfortunately, as the attacks on parental leave have shown – we can’t take any wins for granted. We still have to be ready to defend against those who want to drag us backwards on these issues. 

That means it’s critical that we keep working to hold those pledges accountable for their commitments, as well as working to secure the policy improvements we need to make progress on women’s economic inequality.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this campaign – whether as a donor, volunteer, or as someone who has used their voice to join the call for change. 

How we did it 

When the Abbott Government announced on Mother’s Day last year that they planned to cut new parents’ paid time at home, Fair Agenda member Anna asked you to stand with her – and within days 15,000 Fair Agenda members joined her. 

When it became clear that the Government weren’t going to back down from their outrageous attack on working parents, we worked together to win the votes needed to block this proposal in the Senate.

Over the months that followed Fair Agenda members called, emailed and met with key cross-bench Senators to make sure they knew about the strong community opposition to the Government’s cuts.

This community pressure helped ensure it was impossible for the Abbott government to negotiate its cuts through the Senate.

That should have been the end of it. But instead, when Malcolm Turnbull took over the leadership, he doubled down – and announced a new, slightly different proposal he was planning to negotiate through the Senate. 

But we didn’t let him.

The Turnbull Government’s had made their announcement in the weeks before Christmas – the perfect time to announce something you don’t want to attract bad press. We made sure that strategy didn’t work.

In the weeks before Christmas Fair Agenda members came together to raise the urgent funds needed to commission expert modelling on the impact of these cuts on workers like nurses, teachers, ambos and Woolies staff.

We then released that research in January, securing syndicated print coverage across major cities, keeping this issue in the headlines where it belonged. 

This coverage helped get crossbench Senator John Madigan on the record as opposed to the new cuts – securing a critical vote needed to block the Government’s attack. 

Then, Fair Agenda joined our friends at The Parenthood in Canberra, to meet with key Senators Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie.

Together with fair Agenda member Heather and her son Luca, we stood with the Senators as they told media they would pledge the final votes needed to block the Turnbull Government’s new cuts in the Senate. 

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It won us a reprieve under this parliament, and it should have been the end. But then Minister Porter told media that the fact that the Government's hadn't been able to pass the legislation: "does not mean that this government at the moment is not trying to change [the current system], or if it were re-elected wouldn’t also be looking at ways in which to modify the existing system along the lines that we have suggested.

In response, Fair Agenda members stepped up our campaign – donating and volunteering to make this an issue for voters at the July 2 election.

Fair Agenda members led meetings with key candidates, and funded an election scorecard that got 6 key Parties on the record as opposing any cuts that the Turnbull Government might try to get through.

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Then we got that scorecard in front of more than 15,000 voters before they headed to the polls. 

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And today, we confirmed that the pledges won by Fair Agenda mean that we have the number of votes needed to block these cuts in the Senate.

Thanks to all the Fair Agenda members who helped make this win possible!

Written by Renee Carr
11 August 2016
Liberal MPs

In response to this year's shock election result the Liberal Party are commencing a 'no holds barred' review of their election campaign. 

It's an election that saw the number of women serving as federal Liberal politicians pushed to a 20 year low, and the replacement of three retiring female MPs with male candidates. 

It's unacceptable regression, and it's prompting senior Liberal party members to speak out about the need for urgent, strong action to ensure balanced representation of women within the Party. 

Fair Agenda members have said that women's under-representation is one of the top issues concerning our community; so we're speaking up to show we support the calls of advocates within the Liberal Party calling for change on this important issue.

Here's the submission we've just sent to Federal Liberal Party HQ, expressing Fair Agenda members' support for immediate action (PDF copy here):

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Att: Richard Alston & Tony Nutt
Liberal Party Federal Secretariat
PO Box 6004
Kingston ACT 2604

Re: Submission to review of the federal election campaign

Dear Mr Alston & Mr Nutt,

I write on behalf of Fair Agenda, an independent community campaigning organisation working to bring about a fair and equal future for women.

Fair Agenda is a community made up of 35,000 women and men from all backgrounds and walks of life, and from across the political spectrum.

One of the issues Fair Agenda members are concerned about is the ongoing under-representation of women in our parliaments. They are particularly concerned about the low number of women currently serving as federal representatives of the Liberal Party.

As part of the election review being undertaken by the Party, I are writing on behalf of Fair Agenda members to urge the Liberal Party to make women’s representation an internal priority. Fair Agenda members support strong measures to increase the number of women pre-selected as Liberal candidates, particularly in safe seats, before the next federal election.

Australia’s political leaders should reflect the full array of talent that Australia has to offer, and the varied perspectives and life experiences that make up the communities they represent. 

Yet when federal parliament reconvenes next August, 8 out of 10 federal Liberal MPs will be men. 

I note the 2015 report from the federal executive warning that the Liberal Party risks losing relevance if it doesn’t lift female participation.

The report highlights barriers to women’s participation in the party, and processes that perpetuate the power of those already in political positions, to the exclusion of others, particularly women. On behalf of Fair Agenda members, I urge you to address these issues as a priority through this review process.

Fair Agenda welcomes the Party’s endorsement of a target of 50% female candidates by 2025. However, our members are concerned that the Liberal Party has actually gone backwards in terms of representation; and that Liberal Party representatives themselves have stated that women are being recruited and preselected into mostly marginal or unwinnable seats.

We note that at the most recent election in the three seats of Murray, Mackellar and Brisbane where women were retiring, they were universally replaced by male candidates.

As part of the election review and response process, we urge you to make addressing the barriers to women’s election, pre-selection and promotion within the Liberal Party.

We particularly note the sentiment of Fair Agenda members like Ms R, who said “you will continue to disenfranchise loyal supporters if you don’t support women at branch level and beyond. Myself and my friends included.”

On behalf of concerned Fair Agenda members, we would welcome your response and further information on the actions being taken to address barriers to women’s pre-selection and promotion.

Yours sincerely, 

Renee Carr
Executive Director
Fair Agenda 

Written by Renee Carr
01 August 2016

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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

With so many things at stake this election, it can be hard to keep track; so we’ve put together a quick budget guide on the top two issues Fair Agenda members said are top priorities, so you know what to keep an eye out for.

Here it is:

1. On addressing gendered violence

Funding for family violence services is the big one to look for here. Prime Minister Turnbull says addressing family violence is a national priority, and tonight’s budget is a test of that commitment.

Domestic Violence Victoria are calling for the federal government to provide an urgent additional $4 billion over two years in this budget, to match the scale of funding committed by the Andrews’ Government in Victoria last month.

Some specific funding needs to listen out for:

  • Family Violence Prevention Legal Services: these are a specialist culturally safe service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, which need an additional $28 million to meet national demand. 
  • Community Legal Centres – which provide vital legal advice to women trying to escape family violence and who are facing a $34 million funding cut,, but which actually need an additional $14.4 million to even meet existing demand.
  • Perpetrator Programs – which require $38 million
  • Primary Prevention work – which needs additional funding on top of the $30 million awareness campaign currently being rolled out.

2. On ending women’s economic inequality

Paid Parental Leave

For the past year the Fair Agenda community have successfully campaigned to stop the government’s attempts to cut the amount of time new parents’ can afford to spend at home caring for their newborn. The government recently confirmed that they plan to re-introduce their cuts to parental leave after the election.

Tonight’s budget should give us an idea of whether or not a returned Turnbull government plans to re-introduce them before the end of the 2016/17 financial year, and therefore whether or not parents due in that time frame will be affected.

Superannuation

Last week a Senate committee report found that women’s superannuation balances at retirement are on average half as large as men’s.

One recommendation made by the committee was that the federal government adjust superannuation tax concessions to ensure they are distributed to people with lower super balances.

The Turnbull government have said that it plans to abolish the Low Income Super Contribution, but there’s speculation that they might introduce something else in this area – if so, it will have important implications for women with low-incomes.

Childcare

The government is proposing a new childcare system – but wants to pay for it by tearing funds out of Paid Parental Leave and Family Tax benefits; hardly a good outcome for families. This is another issue to keep an eye out for in coverage of tonight’s budget.

Written by Renee Carr
03 May 2016
WE're going to an early election: here's the plan

The election is on, and with analysis showing 20 of the 21 key marginal seats have more women voters in them than men, and the fate of paid parental leave hanging in the balance, Fair Agenda’s involvement in this election campaign couldn’t be more important.

We've already asked Fair Agenda members to tell us which issues you want us to focus on in the upcoming election, and you told us you want addressing gendered violence and tackling women's economic inequality to be our community's top two priorities. So the team have developed a bold and ambitious plan to put these two issues on the election agenda. 

Here it is: 

  1. We'll work with survivors and family violence service workers to keep a media spotlight on the thousands of women who are being left without access to the service support they need to escape abuse, and build community pressure on both major parties to increase the funding committed for family violence services.
  2. Fair Agenda will create an easy to use guide to help you understand (and share) where candidates stand on key issues that matter to you, and 
  3. Together we'll make stopping the cuts to parental leave an issue in key Senate races.

It's a plan that focuses on the issues that matter most to Fair Agenda members, plays to the proven strengths of our community, and leverages some of the key opportunities that exist this election. Now we need your help to make it happen.

Right now Fair Agenda doesn’t have the funds to deliver the whole plan. In fact, we've only got enough to deliver one point of the three point plan properly. But we've rallied together to help power incredible impact before. So, before we have to start making tough choices about what we drop, can you chip in to help make sure we can deliver as much impact as possible this election?

As a member-driven organisation, Fair Agenda relies on supporters like you to power our community's impact. Over the past two years, FairAgenda members have helped keep a national spotlight on family violence service funding, protected new parents’ paid time at home -- twice; and defended reproductive rights. Together, our community has proven that we can help impact policy and media at a national scale. And that’s exactly what we need to do again in the lead up to this year’s election. 

Elections are high-stakes. Right now we’re facing a big opportunity to drive positive change by securing additional funding for family violence services, as well as the big threat of being dragged backwards on parental leave. That’s why it’s absolutely critical our community makes our voice heard on our issues, in key moments and in key races. 

Want to understand the plan in more detail? Here it is:

1. We'll keep domestic violence on the national agenda and mobilise to secure increased funding for family violence services.

Together we’ve proven that we can draw national media attention to the fact that thousands of women are being left without the service support they need to live free from danger; and created the consistent pressure needed to win millions in funding for a vital family violence service in the days after the last budget. Now we need to step up that campaign.  

With your support we can:

  • Work with survivors and experts to keep family violence funding on the media agenda ahead of the budget and election, delivering creative media tactics that keep this issue in the headlines and amplify the urgent call for action.
  • Support Fair Agenda’s tens of thousands of members to make the funding of family violence services an inescapable issue for key spokespeople in the major parties, and
  • Build pressure in a key marginal seat to ensure the candidates there can’t escape questions about what their party will do to ensure women trying to escape family violence aren’t left without the service support they need to live in safety.

2. We’ll create an easy to use guide to help you understand (and share) where candidates stand on key issues that matter to you

With speculation that this election could result in a minority government,4 and that minor parties could again hold the balance of power in the next Senate,5 making clear where candidates stand on your issues is vital.

That’s why Fair Agenda will make sure candidates are surveyed on the issues that matter to you; and create an easy-to-use guide to help people cast a vote in line with their values. Then we’ll work with Fair Agenda members to share this scorecard far and wide, and to get it in front of key voters in tight races.

3. We’ll make parental leave an issue in Senate races.

In order to pass their proposed cuts to new parents’ paid time at home, the government first have to get their cuts approved by the Senate. Together we’ve already stopped the cuts in the Senate -- twice. And now the Turnbull government have confirmed that if they’re re-elected, we’ll have to do it again.6

That’s why Fair Agenda have a plan to pressure key Senate candidates in tight races to commit to protect paid parental leave if elected; and to make sure voters know which Senators support cutting new parents’ paid time at home, through a nifty online scorecard.

But we need your help to make this happen. Can you make a regular donation between now and the election to help make that possible?

https://fairagenda.nationbuilder.com/election_donate_monthly

 

-References-

1. The big reason the female vote will be crucial at the next election, Daily Life, 24 March 2016.

2. Are you listening Malcolm Turnbull? Victoria sets new benchmark for national family violence response, Women's Agenda, 18 April 2016.

3. Labor's gains pave wave to another hung parliament, The Australian, 8 April 2016.

4. Double dissolution likely to weaken the Turnbull Government's Senate Position, ABC: Antony Green's Election Blog, 7 April 2016.

5. Cuts to parental leave shaping up as an election issue, Women's Agenda, 7 April 2016.

Written by Renee Carr
20 April 2016
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