The NSW Government’s $148.6 million boost to frontline domestic violence services and eight new magistrates in the 2021-22 NSW Budget is a welcome development, according to Settlement Services International (SSI).
SSI hopes that serious consideration is given to a specialist domestic and family violence (DFV) service for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, which is desperately needed for NSW.
The Budget has given frontline services helping women and children experiencing domestic and sexual violence an extra $60 million over two years.
The government will also invest an extra $32.5 million over four years to expand the Staying Home Leaving Violence program, which helps families stay in their homes while they are experiencing or recovering from domestic abuse, reducing the risk of homelessness and maintaining community connections.
An additional $56.1 million over four years will enable the appointment of eight extra magistrates, meaning more hearings and quicker access to justice, reducing the impact on families, victims and witnesses.
Dr Astrid Perry OAM, SSI’s Manager Strategic Policy, said the funding was a positive outcome that would provide more support for domestic and sexual violence survivors and accelerate access to justice.
However, she said NSW was the most populous state with the largest number of migrant communities and urgently needed tailored and culturally responsive DFV services.
SSI currently works with women leaders from many diverse communities as an early intervention measure and hears firsthand how complex DFV cases are in their communities and how they find accessing services difficult.
“Existing primary prevention initiatives, of which there are few, do not effectively reach CALD communities, resulting in an over-representation of migrant and refugee women in the crisis response system,” she said.
“That is why SSI recommends the Government fund a specialist bilingual DFV response service that includes a bilingual, bicultural workforce. This workforce should be reflective of local populations, adequately trained and clinically supported to respond to the needs of immigrant and refugee families.”