ACT News

Domestic violence funding labelled a 'Band-Aid solution'

A key organisation in the battle against domestic violence in Canberra has labelled the ACT government's $300,000 funding boost to tackle the issue a "Band-Aid solution".

YWCA Canberra executive director Frances Crimmins questioned why primary prevention programs had not been included in the funding announcement.

"What we see, again, is the ACT government providing Band-Aid solutions that deal with the impacts of domestic violence, rather than investing actual government money into long-term programs that prevent violence against women," Ms Crimmins said.

The funding comes from the Confiscated Assets Trust Fund.

An ACT domestic violence data framework, women's safety grants and the Domestic Violence Prevention Council will each receive $100,000.

But Ms Crimmins took aim at the $100,000 slated for the council.

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"We certainly don't need more meetings and discussions," she said. "We need long-term solutions that focus on prevention."

Council chairwoman Marcia Williams said she was surprised to receive the money and acknowledged discussion about prevention programs wasn't happening.

"One of the things that is really proven is that working in schools to teach about respectful relationships from a very early age is really important element," Ms Williams said. "It is the one thing at the moment that no one seems to be talking about."

The ACT government funding announcement comes in the wake of the Canberra mother Tara Costigan's alleged killing. Her death has focused political attention on the problem of domestic violence.

"Domestic and family violence has a very human cost, claiming the lives of more than 100 people in Australia every year," Attorney-General Simon Corbell said.

He said preventing domestic violence had been a high priority for the ACT government and he'd written to the Domestic Violence Prevention Council to conduct a review into the 72 domestic violence related deaths between 1988 and 2012.

Meanwhile Ms Crimmins believes it's time to put funding back into award-winning domestic violence prevention programs that have immediate impacts such as Respect, Communicate, Choose.

"Despite proven positive outcomes for young people, Respect, Communicate, Choose has not been funded by federal or state government since 2013," she said. "There is currently no funding on primary prevention in ACT schools, both in primary schools and high schools."

She said the federal government cut funding to several women's support services before claiming it was no longer their responsibility.

"When we talk to the Commonwealth government they say it is a state or territory responsibility and when we talk to the territory we are told there is no money," Ms Crimmins said.

YWCA Canberra is seeking $200,000 a year from the ACT government to deliver the program in all public primary schools in Canberra. 

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre chief executive officer Christina Stanford said she supported programs like the YWCA's but also welcomed the ACT government's funding announcement.

The centre's high school program about sexual assault has also been defunded.

"We had federal funding to run primary prevention programs in schools which was very successful," she said. "Cultural change is the hardest change to achieve."

Ms Stanford said any response to tackling domestic violence needed to be informed by a cross-sector approach.

"We need to take a look at what we have in the community and what programs and resources are already working and have a really sustained and rational plan to address this issue," she said.

"I think we need to take another look at the plan in which primary prevention forms an important role.

"Any initiative...responding to sexual assault and domestic violence is positive one. Any initiatives put forward to resource this ongoing epidemic in our community are really important."

A spokesman for Mr Corbell said the ACT government was committed to funding a broad range of programs in line with the ACT Prevention of Violence Against Women Strategy 2011-2017, including preventative and education programs. 

He said the YWCA had previously received funding via the government's Confiscated Assets Trust.

"Including the additional $300,000 in funding announced this week the government has disbursed $507,000 from the Confiscated Assets Trust for programs to tackle domestic violence and violence against women and children, including on two previous occasions to the YWCA," the spokesman said.

"While the ACT government is unable to cover all cuts from federal government to these important programs the YWCA's current budget submission will be considered in the upcoming budget process."

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