Local government’s readiness to help reduce domestic violence is being stymied by inadequate state and federal government financial support, ALGA has told a federal inquiry.
In a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee inquiring into family, domestic and sexual violence, ALGA said it is essential councils receive dedicated funding to maximise their capacity to respond to and prevent domestic violence.
Councils operate under increasingly constrained financial environments, including rate capping (in some states), cost shifting from the state/territory governments and increasing costs of delivering services to communities, ALGA said.
“Regional and remote councils are already much more reliant on external funding sources and face additional resource and capacity challenges than their urban counterparts. Federal government funding is essential in enabling those councils to commence domestic violence prevention activities or upscale existing initiatives.
“Councils are well placed to provide guidance and support for awareness raising and prevention activities at local level,” the submission said – noting that state and territory local government associations have been working with jurisdictions to implement state government initiatives and campaigns.
“[However] this has largely been in a supportive and cooperative role without legislative requirement or funding.”
ALGA is proposing two options for funding to local government:
- Funding directly to councils, based on a proven funding model; and
- Funding for a dedicated domestic violence policy officer in each State and Territory Association recommending the Commonwealth to provide funding assistance.
In addition, ALGA is recommending that local government be represented on the Women’s Safety Taskforce of the National Federation Reform Council.
It is also supporting calls for increased Commonwealth funding for support services, safe housing and psychological support for people suffering domestic abuse.
The submission said the newly launched Domestic Violence Toolkit for Local Government, developed with input and support from councils and state and territory local government associations (particularly the Municipal Association of Victoria), underlined the fact that councils are “uniquely placed to influence and drive social change to reduce domestic violence.
“While prevention of domestic, sexual and family violence is not a core responsibility of local government, the position of councils in the community means they are particularly aware of the effects of domestic violence on their communities and understand which approaches are likely to work in their communities.”