As the country bickered yesterday about whether more money for the Pacific was a good idea or not, the Government slipped in another pre-Budget announcement: $76 million for social services, focusing on family violence.

The cash boost to support victims of family violence is the first of its kind in 10 years. That is long overdue. Our record in this country with family violence is woeful.

Police attend 120,000 family harm incidents each year - and those are only the ones they actually get to, they estimate there's probably more like 500,000 incidents a year.

Family violence is our nation's shame, we have the highest level of it in the OECD, it is something we must attempt to turn around, and cannot bury our head in the sand about.


Half the money will apparently go to Women's Refuge - I doubt anyone can argue with that. The only argument should be for more money: $76m is good, but it's just a start.

Earlier this year I talked about our shameful record of child abuse, and how an abused baby was front page news for maybe a couple of days, but then it's off the radar again.

How frustrating it is that we see the same incidents over and over again, how there's fatigue around it and a feeling of hopelessness.

So you have to give this Government credit for shining a light on this, and for pushing to turn around our stats on family violence.

Services and organisations trying to work with these families have been stretched to breaking point for some time, and if some funding can make it to the frontline to address rising demand then we should all be applauding it.

Funding is an important first step, but it's not a cure–all.
Much more work obviously needs to be done around education and awareness and more help is needed in rural areas. These factors are not lost on anyone involved in this area.

But if families in dire need know that they can seek help, and that the help will be available to them in a competent properly funded capacity, then it may encourage more to use the system with confidence.

Families in physical and sexual violence situations don't have the luxury of time.
But they're also often scared and mistrusting.


I know personally of cases where women have said, 'what's the point in seeking help? There won't be any, no one cares'.

Hopefully this move by the Government lets women like this know, that someone does care, and that hopefully, they can help.