Malcolm Turnbull's $100 million domestic violence announcement seems to be missing one vital thing


Jenny Noyes

Public service minister Michaelia Cash: Her Employment Department has rejected a pay offer for a second time.

Public service minister Michaelia Cash: Her Employment Department has rejected a pay offer for a second time. Photo: Andrew Meares

The Prime Minister's announcement of a $100 million funding commitment for domestic violence was welcomed on Thursday morning, understandably, with a sigh of relief. 

Finally we were able to hear the nation's leader speak with force on the issue, and with Rosie Batty by his side, to acknowledge that yes: domestic violence is about gender. 


"Let me say this to you: disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women," he said. "But all violence against women begins with disrespecting women."

Finally, a significant and immediate funding commitment to back up those words.

But is it, really? And, importantly, is the money actually going to where it's most needed?

Of course, Turnbull's $100 million commitment will go some way towards redressing the cuts imposed by his predecessor. But while many commentators were lauding the new PM for making domestic violence his first priority - and for finally outing the elephant in the room - others were busy reading the finer print.

And it throws up more than a few questions about what's been left out. Or one big question, really: Where is the funding for frontline services?

The focus of today's announcement seems to be on long-term prevention through education and cultural change. And that is an important goal. But it must be understood, such goals are very long term. They're not helping the women (or their children) who are at risk of being murdered today. 

The women and children at risk today need a safe roof over their heads, and they need legal aid to help them stop the men who are trying to hurt them. It seems a no-brainer to make funding women's refuges and community legal centres an absolute priority. Yet again, these vital services have been left out of the funding picture. Why? 

In their place, the government is experimenting - trialling 'safe' technology, panic buttons and CCTV in family homes.

The people who have been working in frontline services for decades know what works. Trialling new technological solutions is a great idea - but it shouldn't come at the expense of funding those services that have proven effective in saving lives and without which, women have been left on the street to die.