1 July 2021

ACT to raise Safer Families Levy to support domestic and family violence services

| Dominic Giannini
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 Yvette Berry

Minister for Women Yvette Berry has announced an increase to the Safer Families Levy. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The ACT’s Safer Families Levy will increase by $5-a-year over the next four years, bringing the levy up to $50 a household in 2024/25.

The increase will raise an additional $8.8 million for domestic and family violence services in the ACT as the government tries to increase its focus on sexual assault prevention.

Minister for Women Yvette Berry said frontline services will be prioritised by the additional funding pool.

“Rates of domestic and family violence, and the growing national conversation about sexual assault, have strengthened Canberrans’ calls for action and the ACT Government is responding accordingly,” Ms Berry said.

“These are issues that have touched people from all walks of life in our community.

“Together, we can tackle these challenges by supporting victim-survivors and the services making a difference in their lives.”

The Health Justice Partnerships program, which provides lawyers across Legal Aid and Women’s Legal Centre to help women presenting in health and hospital settings, will receive $4.1 million over four years courtesy of the levy increase.

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre and the Domestic Violence Crisis Centre will receive a combined total of $2.2 million over the same period.

READ ALSO Forced to sleep in cars: emergency housing crisis for domestic violence victims

There will also be $1.5 million for the government’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program; $1.4 million for the Safer Families Collaboration Program, which consists of two full-time staff at DVCS; $817,000 for a private rental assistance program to assist people experiencing domestic and family violence; and $790,000 to design domestic and family violence responses for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr also announced additional funding for community organisations, including community legal services, disability advocacy organisations, mental health programs, and vulnerable students and their families.

Canberra Community Law will also be funded. It called on the ACT Government to help support its services with $500,000 in the upcoming Territory budget.

CCL said it would have had to reduce its capacity by 20 per cent – or 170 vulnerable Canberrans – from 1 July without a continuation of its COVID-funding.

“These programs and organisations contribute to what makes Canberra a great place to live and ensure that all Canberrans have the support they need,” Mr Barr said.

The last ACT budget projected the levy would raise $20.6 million over the next four years.

The full details of the increased levy and the ACT Government’s spending under the Safer Families package will be provided when the ACT Budget is delivered on 31 August 2021.

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So if you only pay this as part of your rates then the 10% of people in public housing don’t have to pay it? Sounds totally fair

This is just another tax hike hidden by a popular subject.

HiddenDragon5:47 pm 03 Jul 21

A separate levy for this purpose can ultimately only be about symbolism and, to a degree, tokenism – there are other worthy and pressing things done by sub-national governments which don’t have separate levies, and which get increased funding each year, so why else do it for this?

If the ACT government wants to play this game with selected functions, it should provide ratepayers with far more detailed information about all of the things which their annual rates payments get spent on. All we have at present is a little pie chart which gives percentages for broad categories of spending, but a single A4 sheet, sent out each year with the assessment for the year, could provide much more detail within each of the major areas of spending, and a summary of spending by region or groups of suburbs. This would do much more for transparency and accountability, and public understanding of where the money goes, than the monthly “our CBR” leaflets.

There are many of your comments that I don’t agree with HiddenDragon but I certainly agree about asking for more accountability, and not just the local ACT government but across all jurisdictions. The lack of transparency in the way billions of tax payer dollars are spent is appalling. Perhaps the government should also put some resources into reducing the most common causes of DV – drugs (including alcohol), gambling and mental health.

Finagen_erection3:35 pm 03 Jul 21

Can you just hear that song, we’re all in this together?

No? Me neither.

We’ll spend millions on a light rail for the benefit of a few, and we increase levies for the benefit of all. We love our political elite. We get exactly what we deserve.

This tells me that the ACT is not the Utopian paradise that Barr and Co would like us to believe

James Smithurst12:14 pm 03 Jul 21

Blow money on light rail, a new multicultural centre, new sports centres and more promises during the election to then take money from our back pockets via levies. What this government hasn’t been able to do is prioritise its spending.

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