In the year 2000 a Mel Gibson movie titled “What Women Want” came out. I saw this movie when it came out, but honestly all I can remember of it was a scene with a bathtub and a hair dryer. Suffice to say, it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Though perhaps that was because at 9 I didn’t understand some of the more, let’s say, mature concepts. Unlike Mel Gibson’s movie however, the federal budget has hit the mark for what women want.
What women want however is, in some ways, as diverse as it is possible to be, and in other ways, almost completely uniform at the same time. When it comes to funding from the Australian Government, women have been crying out for years for more funding for domestic violence and legal services, more affordable housing for single parent families, better access to child care, strategies to help them re-enter and remain in the workforce after child birth and more funding for women’s health. And this is exactly what the 2021 Federal budget has delivered.
On the 11 May 2021, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered this year’s budget, and if I was asked to respond to it with one emoji, it would be the clapping hands. In summary the budget will provide for significant funding to domestic violence services and legal services, particularly for family law, more sustainable and affordable housing options, funding for women’s health and funding for child care.
Before the budget was released the Morrison Government confirmed its commitment to doubling the spending on women’s safety, and pledged at least $227 million annually ($681 million over three years) to domestic violence prevention. The chief executive of Women’s Safety NSW said “this is a good start and if invested in the right interventions, will significantly improve the safety of many Australian women and children, experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence.”
When announcing the budget the Treasurer announced the government will invest a further $1.1 billion in women’s safety. Mr Frydenberg said this will go into “delivering more emergency accommodation, more legal assistance, more counselling more, financial support – including cash payments for those escaping abusive relationships, more targeted services for Indigenous, migrant and refugee women, and women with a disability”.
Mr Frydenberg further went on to say “we will improve the family law system to better protect children, give victims of domestic violence greater access to justice, and reduce the time spent in court.” As a family and children’s lawyer, it is my hope that some of this funding will be applied toward appointing more Judges in the Family Court system, to help attend to cases more expeditiously, particularly those involving domestic and family violence and significant risks to children.
The Treasurer has also promised funding of $1.7 billion to the child care system, to provide additional support to around 250,000 families. This package is aimed at low and middle-income families earning $130,000 or less and means that for families with two or more children aged five and under, the childcare subsidy will increase to a maximum of 95 per cent, a 10% increase from the current 85% subsidy.
The Federal Budget also included a $354 million health package for women spread over four years and includes funding for breast and cervical cancer, endometriosis and reproductive health, as well as $47.4 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of new mothers and pregnant women.
The Government has also developed a new program, called the “Family Home Guarantee” which is designed to allow single parents to purchase a property with as little as a 2% deposit. This will help single parents enter the housing market for the first time and purchase their forever home for their family. It will also help single parents re-enter the housing market after a divorce or relationship breakdown and secure their future and their children’s future after a period of uncertainty and turmoil.
This budget is, without a doubt, a budget that will help women, children and families. If there is one summarising hashtag for how women and children will come out of this budget I think it would be #winning!
If you are wanting to speak to a solicitor regarding a family law matter, please contact our office on (02) 4050 0330 or book an appointment online.