Demanding transparency: How much is Labor actually investing in domestic and family violence prevention?

Today during Question Time, Abigail asked the Treasurer to provide a distinct line item in the NSW budget that reveals Labor's precise allocation of funding in the DFV sector, one that is clearly distinguished from allocations for women's health centres, street lights, and other unrelated items.

Abigail said:

My question is directed to the Treasurer. The Greens, along with the domestic and family violence sector, have for years been calling for a specific and clear line item in the New South Wales budget to allow us to track spending on domestic and family violence prevention and response. Advocates and experts are currently unable to clearly delineate exactly how much the New South Wales Government is spending on these targeted strategies year on year. Will the Treasurer commit to finally having such a line item in the 2024‑25 budget so that we can decipher whether announced funding is genuinely new funding or simply repackaging and repurposing of existing and previously announced funds?

The Treasurer responded with reference to previous budgets, to which Abigail asked a supplementary question:

I thank the Treasurer for his initial response. I ask for some elaboration. The question was whether we would be able to see it in the 2024‑25 budget. I understand that there is a process, that wellbeing budget indicators are being developed and all of that. Will we be able to see clearly, year on year, a particular line item in this budget or a particular statement that tells us how much funding there will be for the domestic and family violence sector? In addition, could the Treasurer clarify whether the 400-and-something million mentioned includes matters that the sector would not consider to be specific to domestic and family violence, such as, for example, women's health centre funding?

Read the full transcript in Hansard here.

Later during the sitting day, Abigail further pressed the Government:

I take note of the answer given by the Treasurer in relation to working out exactly how much money in the budget will go towards domestic and family violence. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that I have asked about this at every budget estimates hearing since I took on the domestic and family violence portfolio for The Greens in 2019. At every hearing I have asked where this line item is. It is really important, because we get funding announcements but there is no way to easily track exactly how much is spent or to see how that compares with previous years. Some aspects of the latest package announced on Monday look like a promising start, but it is really hard to work out exactly how much money is there, where it is going and whether it will be delivered if, for example, there are not enough workers or there is some other issue. The sector and I would like to know exactly how much money is being spent so that we can track it, work out what is and is not having an impact and where we need to continue to push.

For instance, we know the Staying Home Leaving Violence program was funded with $32 million over four years from the 2021-22 budget, which takes us to 2025. It is a bit unclear whether the Government announcement of an additional $48 million over the four years includes what has already been put in the budget until 2025. If it does not, we are actually looking at $2 million, $4 million or $8 million additional a year, which is not very much. Is it conditional? What sort of backup plan does the Government have to ensure there is a workforce strategy so that this can be rolled out quickly and effectively? That sort of information is missing. Similarly, it is unclear how much of the $48 million to fund child specialists in refuges is a carry-on from the existing funding that we had to really argue for this time last year. Those workers were about to lose their jobs and were saved within four days thanks to the sector's advocacy. Those are the sorts of issues that we are talking about.

I appreciate the Treasurer's attempt to try to correct some of those figures. We can debate it at length, I am sure, but we are dealing with a sector that has been messed around for so long when it comes to funding. There have been so many bright and shiny announcements that did not get backed up by funding at the end of the day. The sector really just wants to understand this very clearly. They do not want things like general women's health services and streetlight spending included in the figure. They just want to know.

Read the Hansard entry here.

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