Victorian government fails on Aboriginal women’s and children’s safety 

Today, the Allan Government released its 2024 State Budget. 

Djirra is more than disappointed by the Allan Government’s failure to invest in Aboriginal women’s and children’s safety, and Djirra’s self-determined solutions to end family violence. 

The demand for Djirras services continues to rise. “We experienced a 33% increase in demand for our specialist frontline services in 2023, and in just this last quarter, another 22% increase in our intake. However, there is no funding to reflect this,” CEO Antoinette Braybrook AM said. 

In the west of Melbourne alone, the number of Aboriginal women reaching out to Djirra for legal help increased by 114% since opening our Melton office in July 2023. This will only continue to increase with the establishment of the new specialist family violence court at Wyndham. 

This 2024 ‘helping families’ budget fails to support the growing number of Aboriginal women losing their children because of family violence, but rather invests in measures that criminalise Aboriginal children.  

This 2024 budget has no new funding for Djirra. Djirra’s funding has remained static since it was first provided eight years ago following the Royal Commission into Family Violence (RCFV). 

“It’s unacceptable that the government can invest $34 million in a pilot of ankle bracelet surveillance of those children fortunate enough to get bail, but not find one dollar to increase investment in the frontline services that keep children safe with their mums.” Ms Braybrook said. 

This budget is punitive. It’s introducing more tough on crime approaches rather than investing in saving lives and keeping women and children safe.

This budget provides some continued funding for Djirra’s existing life changing programs such as key early intervention initiatives identified by the RCFV as best practice – our Koori Women’s Place, Sisters Day Out and Dilly Bag. 

Of major concern, funding is unconfirmed for several of our other essential life changing and life saving programs. This includes Djirra’s Prison Support Program for our women in and exiting prison which will lapse at the end of June 2024 – only several weeks away. 

“The Victorian Government tells Djirra to expect continued funding for these programs through a proposed women’s safety package which will be announced at an unspecified time in the future – but it is not good enough that this funding has not been guaranteed in the actual budget,” said Ms Braybrook. “As we wait for ongoing funding, the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal women is compromised. As we wait for ongoing funding we will lose staff and client trust will erode.” 

Djirra will continue to advocate on behalf of the thousands of amazing Aboriginal women and children whose lives we touch every day. Our lives must be valued, our self determination and priority and invested in.