In 2021 as part of his election platform Anthony Albanese pledged to deliver 500 new frontline community domestic violence workers, saying:

“Coalition governments have failed to take this task seriously. Not enough workers are funded. It’s past time to stop just talking about it – and elevate women’s safety to a national priority.”

Labor funded the 500 community workers measure in the October 2022 Budget promising to have 200 new workers on the ground in 2022-23. None were delivered in that year.

Today the Opposition can reveal that just two workers out of the 500 promised are on the ground delivering domestic violence support services 16 months on from that funding being allocated and almost two years into the Albanese Government’s term.

Anthony Albanese has delivered just one domestic violence worker in South Australia and one domestic violence worker in the Northern Territory.

Two of the 500 promised domestic violence workers is totally unacceptable.

This shocking revelation was unearthed by questioning at Senate Estimates by the Shadow Minister for Child Protection and the Prevention of Family Violence, Kerrynne Liddle.

This also brings into question statements made by the Prime Minister in the House on this matter. When asked about Labor’s performance in reducing domestic violence in Question Time on 27 November 2023 he responded:

“My government is taking immediate and practical action…We've delivered on our commitment of new frontline and community sector workers to support victims-survivors.”

Given that at most only two of 500 promised domestic violence workers could have been on the ground when he made that statement, the answer was misleading and should be corrected.

The Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Women, Sussan Ley, called on Anthony Albanese to stand up and accept responsibility for failing to meet his commitment to deliver 500 new domestic violence workers and pledge to fix it.

“Today of all days we have to confront the reality that domestic violence is a crisis across Australia, over a dozen women have been killed already this year, most by domestic violence,” she said.

“I cannot express the depth of my disappointment that only two of the promised 500 domestic violence workers are in place, more than 650 days on since Labor was elected.

“Women’s safety is a critical precondition for gender equality and the women of Australia deserve accountability from the Government on this.”

Shadow Minister for Child Protection and Prevention of Family Violence, Senator Kerrynne Liddle, said the rollout of critical frontline service workers had been appalling, and amounted to another broken promise from the Albanese Government.

“There is no excuse for violence but the factors that coincide with spikes are known, such as poverty, stress and substance misuse and gendered power in relationships; the Albanese Government’s go slow here is truly unwarranted and disturbing,” the Senator for South Australia said.

“I have spent months seeking the truth only to find that just two of the 500 promised frontline workers have been employed on the frontline to assist the desperate family, domestic and sexual violence sector.

“This is a disgrace given that we lost more than 50 women to intimate partner violence in 2023 and already 11 women have been killed in family violence incidents in just two months this year.”

These revelations come as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Sussan Ley, sounds the alarm over an anticipated spike of domestic violence incidents over coming weeks as Australians face the stress of bills built up over the holiday period and the increasing impact of the cost of living crisis.

Data compiled by the Parliamentary Library from Victoria Police, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics demonstrates Australia has an annual spike of domestic violence in March. It is well understood there is a spike of violence in December and January over the holidays but this data demonstrates that March is another month that sees a spike in domestic violence in Australia.

According to the analysis from the Parliamentary Library, March is a period when the financial effects built up over the Christmas holidays are felt and this trend can be seen in the spike of domestic violence reporting over a number of years.

There are grave concerns, given the economic strain across Australia, that domestic violence will likely increase again in coming weeks. In 2023, across Victoria and New South Wales, there was an almost 7 per cent increase over March with more than 1,000 additional incidents reported. Given this is just two states and that most incidents go unreported, the numbers are certainly much higher.