Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1409 ..
It would be great if we could get some really good long-term ambitious funding for the sector in Canberra, which makes us so vibrant and so creative. I am really looking forward to working further with our government and with our artists and art sector to see what we can come up with here.
Family violence services—funding
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (5.02): I rise to speak about our domestic and family violence front-line services. In my position, I am privileged to work with and hear from people involved in those services, and I have been receiving two consistent messages: front-line domestic and family violence services are underfunded and the money going toward training every single ACT public servant is a questionable priority. At the time of the announcement of the safer families levy, the news received widespread support. Nowadays, certain aspects of the levy were met with suspicion.
The first phase of the levy included $770,000 for the training of front-line staff across community and emergency services, health, and education to support identification of family violence and early intervention. This was a worthwhile initiative. Employees in these sectors work closely with a broad segment of the population and are much more likely to encounter people who may be victims of abuse. More recently, it was announced that the government would commit an additional $2.4 million to train all 21,000 ACT government staff. This is what has caused many community organisations to now regard this training program with the degree of mistrust.
While the initial spend of $770,000 to help practitioners and community and emergency service employees was wise, there is a fear that the government’s desire to expand this training to every single ACT government employee is not about domestic and family violence awareness and has been contorted instead to be a part of standard work health and safety training within their own directorates. If this is the case, it is the government’s responsibility to fund this training from existing revenue rather than from the dedicated and purpose-raised safer families levy.
Taxes are taxes; they are a way of life and are used to address many issues. The safer families levy, however, is not like other taxes; it is a dedicated life-saving gift to anyone interacting with this space. The funds must be treated carefully, transparently and, dare I say, sacredly, so that they are used in the most effective way. We owe this to all Canberrans.
We know that there are women’s refuges who see children who are victims of domestic violence, yet there is no psychological support for these kids after seeing the trauma. I remember when I witnessed a vehicle accident, I was offered counselling by ACT Policing. Yet when a 10-year-old sees violence in their home and then flees in the middle of the night for safety, there is not the same offer of psychological help and support that was provided to me. It is clear that we are doing something wrong, and it needs to change immediately.
Similarly, for women who are still experiencing trauma after years or months of fleeing domestic violence, there is a lack of support. When I hear that our front-line