Sexual violence services at risk as funding dries up
Domestic and sexual violence services have called for the federal government to pour more funding into the sector amid concerns Queensland is at risk of losing key support at a time when demand from vulnerable women has almost tripled in some cases.
Queensland specialist services have banded together to write to the government, urging it to inject another $150 million into the sector nationwide amid increased demand during the pandemic.
Domestic Violence Action Centre in Ipswich and Toowoomba (DVAC) is bracing to lose more than 195 hours each week of frontline services when the funding ends - meaning that 10 staff will either have their hours cut or lose their role.
DVAC chief executive Amie Carrington said the organisation could be forced to run long wait lists, particularly for sexual violence counselling services.
"This would leave women without any counselling support for months," she said.
"What we have found is since 2018 we've had a significant increase in the number of victims and survivors - last financial year we supported 8900 clients within our region," Ms Carrington said.
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRISIS SERVICES
In December last year, the State Government is understood to have spent $8 million of the $25.6 million which was allocated by the Commonwealth.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston encouraged all states and territories to ensure the provided funding pool was being spent and spent where it was most needed.
If the funding was not repeated, DVAC would start losing roles at the end of June, she said.
The plea comes ahead of a meeting between federal, state and territory family violence ministers today, with the Queensland support services urging them to take immediate action.
Ending Violence Against Women Queensland president Emma Iwinska said some services had seen women's requests for help regarding men's perpetration of violence double or triple in the first few months of 2021.
"The impacts of COVID and the escalation of men's violence is still ongoing and services need continuing funding to address this," Ms Iwinska said.
"Alongside funding much needed service responses, it is imperative that all levels of government invest in long-term primary prevention of violence initiatives to drive the structural and societal change needed to stop men perpetrating violence in the first place."
White Ribbon Australia executive director Brad Chilcott said that the safety of women and children should not be reduced.
"It should be unthinkable that we ask specialist women's safety services across the country to cut back their ability to support women and children fleeing men's violence when we know that the need has never been higher," he said.
Originally published as Sexual violence services at risk as funding dries up