New action to counter domestic violence in this year's Budget builds on longstanding and ongoing support for the sector. The Domestic Violence Crisis Service and the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre currently receive $3.3 million to deliver specialist domestic violence and sexual assault services. The Government also supports specialised accommodation, outreach and specialist domestic and sexual violence services, and for women and children at risk of homelessness:
- Providing crisis and transitional accommodation and outreach support to women with or without accompanying children who are leaving or have become homeless (reaching $1.7 million in 2014-15).
- Services specifically for women, totalling over $2.5 million annually, including for:
- Toora Women Incorporated to provide accommodation and outreach support services for single women ($1 million a year);
- Inanna Incorporated to provide supported accommodation and outreach services (over $500,000), and
- Support for women with disabilities who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault.
- The ACT also supports the safety of women and their children through the Confiscated Assets Trust Fund (totalling $555,000). This funding also supports the ACT Government's contribution to the Australian National Research Organisation for Women's Safety which was launched in May 2014.
- In 2014-15 the ACT Government provided $5.486 million of base funding to Legal Aid ACT (excluding funding for major cases). This funding allows legal aid services to be provided to those who could otherwise not afford legal representation or advice, including victims of domestic violence.
The ACT Education and Training Directorate and schools have embedded, as a core principle, respectful relationship building in their teaching practices and recognise the importance of early intervention and targeted support for children exposed to domestic violence. Announced Budget initiatives will build on this.
The latest available data shows the range and extent of activities by justice and crisis agencies in the family and domestic violence area. This includes:
- ACT Policing attended 2,848 incidents with 1,984 criminal offences identified in 2014.
- The ACT Director of Public Prosecutions commenced criminal proceedings against 425 defendants in 2013-14.
- The Domestic Violence Crisis Service supported people living with or escaping violence through 33,426 contacts in 2013-14. This included 1,408 crisis interventions that often involved attending with or immediately after police attended a victim's home.
- Victim Support ACT supported 136 new clients in 2013-14.
- Legal Aid ACT assisted in the delivery of 1,116 legal support services in 2013-14.
- 15 per cent of families in the expanded Strengthening Families model have identified domestic violence as a current issue. For those participating families that are single parent families (50 per cent), the experience of domestic violence is as high as 23 per cent.
- In 2013-14, 529 people whose primary need was related to domestic or family violence received support from the ACT Specialist Homelessness Services.
In April 2015, the ACT Domestic Violence Prevention Council convened a forum with a wide spectrum of community and government representatives to identify priority reforms and also informed the ACT's position for the April meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.
At COAG , all Governments committed to urgent collective action to reduce the unacceptable levels of violence against women and children, support those experiencing violence, and bring perpetrators to justice. These actions included a jointly-funded national information campaign, a national domestic violence order scheme, national standards for holding perpetrators of violence to account; and the development of strategies to tackle the increased use of technology to facilitate abuse.