The Southern Aboriginal Corporation is calling on the Federal Government to reinstate funding for the only national body representing indigenous victims of family violence and sexual assault.
The Government announced it would discontinue funding for the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum on November 25 — the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women — which will take effect from June next year.
SAC is one of 13 FVPLS branches in the country, and last week began campaigning to reinstate the funds, which amounted to less than $250,000 to the national body.
SAC chief executive Asha Bhat said she was shocked and disappointed with the decision.
“One key national conversation we have been in is ‘closing the gap. The de-funding of our national body will mean the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors of family violence will be taken out of the national conversations,” she said.
Ms Bhat said the funding was needed for branches to work together, share resources and governance practices, and keep up-to-date on government policies.
“FVLPS gives us a united voice on key national issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people like family violence, incarceration and the health gap — just to name a few,” she said.
SAC FVLPS manager Oscar Colbung said this was not the first time the Government had cut funding without “consultation or justification”.
“It’s the same old story — the bureaucrats within the system making decisions even though there are no clear recommendations about this,” he said.
Last week, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said said the FVPLS was fully engaged and consulted throughout the evaluation and decision making.
“Suggestions the Government is attempting to silence the voices of women are incorrect,” he said.
Mr Wyatt said the $244,000 would be distributed across the FVPLS providers and an additional $3m granted to frontline organisations over three years.
He pointed to the findings of an evaluation by Charles Darwin University. But its 36 recommendations made no reference to the de-funding of the national body, with some suggesting resources for the body should be increased.
Ms Bhat said she was glad the funding for frontline services was boosted but the plan to appoint an independent facilitator meant the national body was not self-determined or on equal ground.
“Solutions to family violence against our women must be built on the principles of self-determination and community control. We are the experts,” she said.
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