More investment urgently needed for frontline, Aboriginal-led, Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services

Last night, the Albanese Government delivered the 2024 Federal Budget.

Djirra welcomes the long overdue investment of $8.6 million to support pay parity for staff within Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services (FVPLSs). FVPLSs are the lowest funded of the four legal assistance providers in Australia and yet have 90%+ women staff who typically are paid 20-30% less than staff in comparable roles within Legal Aid Commissions.  This is a much needed boost to organisations like Djirra to sustain our stretched workforce, but it’s just the first step.

The Budget provides no guarantee of funding beyond June 2025 when the existing National Legal Assistance Partnership (NLAP) expires.  Djirra calls on Government to immediately release the Independent Review of the NLAP and commit to its key findings that support Aboriginal women and children’s safety. This includes:

  • Increased funding with indexation.
  • Quarantining of funding.
  • Reallocating funds from mainstream legal services to FVPLSs so Aboriginal women can access a culturally safe legal assistance provider wherever they are in Australia.
  • Longer term agreements of 5+ years.

Djirra CEO Antoinette Braybrook AM says, “Funding for Djirra and other Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services across the country has been extremely low for far too long. While we are encouraged by the investment into pay parity for our staff, we still urgently require long-term funding beyond the next 13 months. Without guaranteed and expanded investment, we risk losing staff which puts Aboriginal women and children’s lives at risk.”

“Djirra is also very concerned by the absence of new funding for frontline, specialist family violence services for Aboriginal women and children. This is true across all Government departments. We are particularly concerned that the Department of Social Services (DSS) contributes such limited investment into Djirra’s critical non-legal assistance and early intervention programs that keep Aboriginal women and children safe.”  

“In the first three months of 2024, Djirra experienced a 22% surge in demand for our services from Aboriginal women and children experiencing family violence across Victoria. This Government must commit to ending violence against our women and children by urgently investing in Djirra’s specialist legal and non-legal services to enable us to meet this rapidly growing demand,” says Ms Braybrook.

Djirra welcomes the $925 million investment to continue the Escaping Violence Payment (EVP). The EVP evaluation found approximately 28% of persons accessing this program are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and made recommendations for greater cultural safety in the delivery of the program. 

Ms Braybrook says “The Escaping Violence Payment for Aboriginal women in Victoria MUST be administered by Djirra. When Djirra acts on behalf of our women who are eligible, we are significantly more successful in securing the funds to address women’s immediate safety needs.”

While the EVP may provide crucial assistance for immediate safety, it does not address the economic security of women experiencing family violence. Ms Braybrook recently joined over 200 women leaders in urgently calling for key social security payments to be raised in line with recommendations of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee. Djirra calls on the Government to do much more to address the economic wellbeing of Aboriginal women and children experiencing family violence.