Djirra welcomes the significant investment in Aboriginal Affairs by the Victorian Government but is disappointed by the lack of visibility of, and investment into, Aboriginal women safety in the 2023 State Budget.
“Right now, we are experiencing a 33 per cent increase in demand for our services from women and 38 per cent increase in services for children,” Djirra CEO, Antoinette Braybrook said. “We are trying to do more with less, and meanwhile, Aboriginal women are dying and our kids are being taken.”
Djirra is also concerned about the lack of indexation applied to funding, which in effect reduces funding into our vital services every year. The vast majority of funding received by Djirra for our work does not increase along with annual CPI increases, despite current inflation running at seven per cent.
“Investments by the government into punitive child protection and criminal justice systems is a waste of public money. Our women need to be safe and supported to keep their children not misidentified and criminalised,” Ms Braybrook said.
Aboriginal women in Victoria are 45 times more likely to experience family violence, and 11 times more likely to die from violent assault than other women. The number of Aboriginal children removed from their families has doubled, with over 2500 First Nations children in the child protection system, as revealed by the Yoorrook Justice Commission.
“We have kept these issues and the unique experiences of Aboriginal women’s lives in front of Government for more than 20 years. We continue to face funding shortfalls at a time when we’re trying to navigate steep increases in demand for our services and respond to the Government‘s reform agenda,” Ms Braybrook said.
“Women’s lives will be lost and more children will be taken if we are forced to freeze our services. We can’t ignore the truth being told at Yoorrook – women and children’s lives must matter and specialist culturally safe services such as Djirra must be invested in. As we move towards Treaty in Victoria now is the time to listen to our women and invest in our solutions.”