AFederal Government commissioned evaluationinto the effectiveness of one of its key family violence initiatives has just been released, but again domestic and family violence sector experts are left scratching their heads as to why the Morrison Government has ignored its recommendations to expand the program to regional areas.
The initiative, called the Family Advocacy Support Service (FASS),was funded under the Third Action Plan 2016-19of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, and aimed to deliver holistic legal and social support services to victims and perpetrators of family violence in the family law system “across Australia”. In practical terms, this means ensuring physical options for safety when accessing the family law system, as well as the provision of specialist legal and domestic violence support services.
Most victims of domestic and family violence in regional, rural and remote Australia, however, were not to see a dime of this $18.5 mil investment in women and children’s safety, with funds going to legal aid commissions to deliver services in family court registries in just 23 select locations, mostly in metropolitan areas.
Three years on, and the FASS has been found by independent evaluator, Inside Policy, to be a “critical”and “necessary”program“which fills a gap in both legal and social service provision to family law clients with family violence matters.”In the report, which was prepared from the Attorney General’s Department in October 2018, but has only now become publicly available, the Evaluator makes a number of recommendationsfor the continuation and expansion of the program, including to regional areas.
Notwithstanding these recommendations, the Federal Government chose not to expand the FASS, instead committing a mere $22.6 million to extend the existing program from 2019-2022, with the only enhancement to the service being for more male workers in existing sites.
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