The New South Wales (NSW) government has announced that it will invest over $90 million (US$69.4 million) in additional funding to the state’s domestic and sexual violence support services in the upcoming state budget.
The announcement revealed that frontline services would receive a $60 million boost, while the expansion of the Staying Home Leaving Violence (SHLV) program will be supported with an additional $32.5 million over four years.
“NSW is one of the best places to live, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune from complex social issues like domestic and sexual violence that impact thousands each year,” Perrottet said in the announcement.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman said current priorities include helping children impacted by domestic violence, victims from Aboriginal or other culturally diverse backgrounds, and victims in regional areas.
Speakman welcomed the additional funding for the expansion of the SHLV program, which aims to help victims who decide against moving away from their support groups and family and want to stay at their homes.
“Women are often forced to flee violent homes, and in doing so, they’re cut off from housing, community supports, employment, and education for their children,” Speakman said. “Perpetrators choose to inflict horrendous abuse on those they claim to love. It is they alone who should bear the brunt of re-locating if they refuse to change their behaviour.”
CEO of Domestic Violence NSW Delia Donovan also welcomed the funding boost for services around the state and called the expansion of SHLV “fantastic news.”
“Frontline services have been advocating for greater support, particularly during COVID-19, to deliver crucial services to victim-survivors in communities across NSW, so we’re really pleased to see this critical funding commitment in the Budget,” Donovan said.
According to official NSW crime statistics, the number of reported sexual assaults in March was 61 percent more than the monthly average. The statistics bureau attributes this to a rise in willingness to report incidents triggered by a recent widespread conversation about sexual violence and consent.
Victims of crime will also benefit from faster access to legal representation and hearings as the state announced a $56 million (US$43 million) investment into appointing eight additional magistrates and resources for prosecutors and Legal Aid.
“The extra magistrates will help to reduce the trauma of waiting for hearing dates and attending court on victims, witnesses, and families,” Speakman said. “We’re committed to easing that burden felt particularly by those involved in domestic violence cases.”
Treasurer Perrottet said the investment acknowledged the critical role of the local courts in the state’s justice system.
“As NSW continues to grow, we need to ensure the local court system is equipped to meet the challenges of the future and deliver justice to victims as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Perrottet said.