The 2023-24 Victorian Budget was announced Tuesday 23 May. It outlines Victorian Government spending for the forthcoming year.
No to Violence welcomed funding for the Men’s Accommodation and Counselling Service (MACS) – announced in the Victorian Budget.
The funding – a key ask of No to Violence’s Pre-Budget Submission – would expand the scope and footprint of the MACS program for the next four years.
The funding is part of a $20.6 million investment in accommodation-based perpetrator interventions that also covers Medium Term Perpetration Accommodations Service.
MACS provides accommodation and counselling to men who have been excluded from the home via a Safety Order or Interim Violence Order, meaning the women and children affected can remain safe in the home.
This funding builds on previous Victorian Government investment into family violence and forms part of the $117 million over four years to support the family violence sector, including $77.1 million to end family violence and sexual assault through intervention strategies such as crisis management, accommodation support and behaviour change programs.
The truth is it is going to take many years of investment at both state and federal levels to have any confidence that men can access services Australia wide, and that the risk to women and communities from violent men is being addressed.
There is a long, long way to go
We will continue advocating for funding that will ensure a sustainable, evidence-based family violence sector that is driven by a strong and capable workforce.
The purpose of this article is to analyse what the 2023-24 Victorian Budget means for our sector. It includes comparisons with the 2022-23 Budget to show where funding changes may impact our work and the work of our members.
- $77.1 million over four years towards ending family violence and sexual assault through intervention strategies including:
- $20.6 million over four years for accommodation-based perpetrator interventions
- $2.6 million over four years for men’s behaviour change programs
- $25 million for Aboriginal frontline family violence services
- $6 million over four years to address elder abuse in Victoria.
- $2.1 million for early intervention programs in directly addressing the links between alcohol and other drug use and family violence.
- $22.8 million towards providing access to specialist family violence legal assistance.
- $30.1 million in 2023-24 to support primary prevention of family violence.
Measures with the potential to directly benefit members
$77.1 million over four years for family violence and sexual assault intervention strategies
The Victorian Government has committed $77.1 million to family violence and sexual assault intervention strategies, which includes funding for the following initiatives:
$20.6 million for accommodation-based perpetrator interventions:
The Victorian Government has committed to initiatives that will allow women and children to remain safe at home, while providing accommodation and counselling support to men who have been excluded from the home due to their use of family violence. This funding will be directed to ensure the ongoing operation of the Men’s Accommodation and Counselling Service (MACS) and the Medium Term Perpetrator Accommodation Service (MPAS).
$2.6 million for men’s behaviour change programs:
The Victorian Government has allocated $2.6 million to ensure the ongoing operation of men’s behaviour change programs in Victoria. This builds upon funding that was announced in the 2022-23 Victorian budget, which included:
• $7.9 million over two years (2022-23 to 2023-24) for the continuation of perpetrator case management
• $2.0 million to deliver and continue to embed MBCP post-participation follow-up
• $5.2 million over two years for the continuation of funding for Aboriginal people using family violence
• $6.0 million over two years (2022-23 to 2023-24) for the continuation of perpetrator programs for diverse cohorts
• $3.2 million over three years (2022-23 to 2024-25) to pilot intensive interventions for high-risk perpetrators.
$25 million for Aboriginal frontline family violence services:
Premier Daniel Andrews announced that $25 million will be allocated to Aboriginal frontline family violence services. This builds upon the Labor Government’s commitment to ensuring that Aboriginal people have access to services that are community-led and delivered in a culturally safe manner.
Other services funded as part of this initiative include:
- Aboriginal-led sexual assault services
- Adolescent family violence in the home (AVITH) programs
- Financial support and case management for victim survivors of family violence
- Specialist support for women with complex needs
- Safe at Home approaches including the Personal Safety Initiative and culturally specific flexible support packages for 90 migrant and refugee women on temporary visas who have experienced family violence
- Support for victim survivors with complex presentations in appropriate accommodation.
Please note that a breakdown of this funding has not yet been provided. However, we understand these services will receive a total of around $29 million in funding.
$2.1 million over four years for early intervention programs in directly addressing the links between alcohol and other drug use and family violence.
The Victorian Government has provided $2.1 over four years to continue the delivery of alcohol and other drug (AOD) services that address the link between AOD use and family violence. This includes expanded funding for the U-Turn program into the Hume region.
U-Turn is an MBCP-styled program that targets high-functioning male respondents on IVOs where AOD use was cited as a contributing factor. This program addresses AOD use, the gendered drivers and perpetration of family violence, as well as emotional regulation, impacts of violence on children, communication and accountability.
Measures indirectly benefiting members
$55 million over four years for the Supporting Community Sector Jobs initiative
The Victorian Government has provided $55 million over four years for the Supporting Community Sector Jobs initiative to assist community social services with cost pressures.
$15 million over two years for the Fair Jobs Code Transition Fund
The Victorian Government has provided $15 million over two years for the Fair Jobs Code Transition Fund to support the implementation of the Community Sector Fair Jobs Code, including transitional support for Community Service Organisations, to promote secure work arrangements in the sector.
$14 million to continue funding community legal centres to support people engaging with the justice system.
The Victorian Government has provided $14 million to community Legal Centre (CLC) initiatives such as the CLC Family Violence Assistance Fund and early intervention health justice partnerships.
$6 million to address elder abuse in Victoria.
The Victorian Government has provided $6 million over four years to address elder abuse. This includes:
- Continuing funding for the Elder Abuse Prevention Networks, which provide community-based primary prevention and raise awareness of elder abuse in communities across Victoria
- Continuing funding for the Seniors Rights Victoria support service, including the state-wide elder abuse helpline.
The headline amount of $6 million over four years amounts to an average $1.5 million per year. This is significantly less than the $2.9 million provided in 2022-23 for the Elder Abuse Prevention Networks and elder abuse financial counselling services.
Other family violence sector measures
$22.8 million over four years to provide access to specialist family violence legal assistance and $3.3 million over two years to enable remote court hearings for victim-survivors
The Victorian Government has provided:
- $23 million towards providing access to specialist family violence legal assistance. This funding will include pre-court engagement strategies and legal representation for parties involved in family violence matters. Funding will be provided to Victoria Police and Victoria Legal Aid.
$3.3 million over two years to enable victim-survivors of family violence to appear in court remotely from a secure location when applying for a Family Violence Intervention Order
$30.1 million in 2023-24 to support primary prevention of family violence.
The Victorian Government has provided $30.1 million this year for primary prevention. This is a marginal reduction from the $30.4 million that was provided in the 2022-23 Budget.
The 2023-24 Victorian Budget demonstrates progress in shifting the burden of family and domestic violence from victim-survivors to the men who use violence.
Significant political leadership and government investment in prevention, early interventions and men’s behaviour change must happen if we are serious about reducing – and ending – the scourge of family and domestic violence in this country.
If we do not address the root causes that enable men to use family violence, they will continue to be violent and abusive.
Our sector is doing truly fantastic work by starting men on their journey to change. But the way services are commissioned leaves little room for evaluation, innovation, research, and a fit-for-purpose service system capable of supporting every man who needs it.
No to Violence will continue advocating on behalf of its members – the organisations and individuals who perform this important work – to ensure the expansion and continued operation of the Victorian family violence sector.
Jacqui Watt is the Chief Executive Officer of No to Violence, Australia’s largest peak body for organisations that work with men who use family violence, and the operator of the Men’s Referral Service.
This analysis was developed using insights from the No to Violence Policy and Research team.