Will the domestic violence levy make a difference?

June 13, 2016

domestic_violenceIt took the death of an eight year old boy, a boy who loved BMX riding and lizards, to finally get the ACT government to look at how it addresses family violence.

Not long after Bradyn Dillon was allegedly murdered by his father Graham Dillon back in February, several reports were released suggesting a major overhaul of the system.

And in this week’s ACT budget, Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that $21.4 million was available over the next four years to implement sweeping reforms as reported by the SMH.

In launching the “safer families” initiative, Barr said it was the most comprehensive package to address family violence in the territory’s history.

Eight people have been killed in family violence related incidents since 2012. Estimates from the ACT Domestic Violence Crisis Service suggest there were another 72 in the 24 years before that.

You would think, then, that many, many more people have been physically and emotionally abused and survived; that many, many people haven’t even become a statistic because they haven’t dared report anything to anybody.

The reforms and the resources are long overdue. But will they make a difference?

It seems one of the main problems is the lack of centralised coordination of all the different agencies involved. There are government departments, crisis services, courts and tribunals, the police and lawyers. The list of who gets what out of the Budget coffers is long and piecemeal.

To counter this it’s somewhat reassuring that more than $3 million will fund a full-time family safety coordinator-general and a dedicated safe families team to create a centralised hub to foster collaboration.

The fact that the bulk of the money will come from a $30 levy per household however is somewhat irking. Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson questioned the levy and said such a package should be a normal act of government. I tend to agree with him. Imagine how many lives could be saved, how many more young boys would get to keep riding their BMX bikes, if the estimated $939 million 20-year spend on the light rail program was diverted to making our families safer.

And when it comes to combating domestic violence, I wonder where the intervention should start. I’ve been following the case of the rape of a woman at Stanford University, in the U.S. This last week 20-year-old Brock Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and sentenced to six months in county jail and probation.

The lenient sentence has caused outrage across the world. To read more click here.

The 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference; Providing the Skills for Change will be held on 5 – 7 December at the Mercure Hotel in Brisbane.

With an improved focus and awareness on the effect of Domestic and Family Violence within Australia, the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association is providing a national unified platform to discuss the strain of Domestic Violence on Australian resources and facilities. Registrations are now open. To register for the Conference CLICK HERE.

With a focus on building skills within the sector, the conference will include discussion and presentations around policy, research and practice with a particular emphasis on innovative and emerging responses.

Authors or organisations interested in presenting at the 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference are invited to submit an abstract. To submit an abstract CLICK HERE.


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