Canberra residential and rural property owners will pay a Safer Families Levy of $30 per year on top of existing rates charges from July to fund a suite of family violence prevention initiatives in the territory.
The Government’s $21.42 million Safer Families package forms one of the key components of the 2016/17 ACT Budget. The Levy will contribute $19.1 million of the total cost of the program, and will be collected via the existing rates notice system.
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Among the commitments is a full-time Coordinator-General for Family Safety and a dedicated family safety team to work in partnership with affected families and the community to improve outcomes. This team will come at a cost of $3.07 million.
A further $2,606,000 will be spent to strengthen integrated case management and coordinaton of services for victims of family violence.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said in his Budget speech today that family violence wasn’t just a problem for police, government or poor people. It was everyone’s problem.
“Family violence does not discriminate,” Mr Barr said.
“It is a national issue that touches the lives of Australians everywhere. In Canberra, we’ve seen our share of tragedy.
“All of us need to stand up and say enough is enough. There is no place for family violence in our community.”
He described the budget commitment of $21.4 million as unprecedented.
“Recent reports commissioned by the Territory Government, together with the Victorian Royal Commission, make it clear that we need to take more action and we need new sources of revenue to fund it.”
The Budget papers outline several other steps the Government would take through the package to prevent violence.
To enhance quality assurance and support improved decision making of child protection services, the Government will spend $2.471 million.
Funding of $770,000 will go towards training for frontline staff across Community and Emergency Services, Health and Education to support identification of family violence and early intervention.
A spend of $2 million will be designed to increase the capacity of specialist drug treatment services to deliver programs that address family violence.
There will be a $1,223,000 investment in translation and interpreting services in ACT courts/tribunals and specialist family violence services.
Other elements of the package include: a brokerage and bond fund to assist victims seeking to escape family violence with immediate expenses ($315,000); increased funding for the Domestic Violence Crisis Service and the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre ($1,246,000); a residential behaviour change program for men who use or are at risk of using violence ($964,000); funding to allow ACT Policing to better assist victims in applying for Domestic Violence Orders; $1,363,000 for the Director of Public Prosecutions to strengthen criminal justice responses to alleged perpetrators of family violence; $1,214,000 for Legal Aid to improve family violence victims’ access to legal services; and $20,000 for the Tara Costigan Foundation to assist in the establishment of the Tara’s Angels Service to support victims rebuild their lives.
The ACT Attorney-General will also direct $850,000 worth of proceeds of crime monies from the Confiscated Assets Trust Fund towards initiatives assisting indigenous families experiencing family violence.