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The issue of domestic violence has been on the social and political agenda for years, yet current measures still lack consistency, leading to an aggravation of the problem. In her recent article, Elisa Berlage (2018) outlined the fact that the 2018 budget does not include financial support for services protecting victims of domestic violence, and implied poor prioritisation strategies and mismanagement of the problem.
On the one hand, the 2015-2016 endeavours at advancing the issue and raising public awareness, bringing the issue into the limelight, have helped to spur discussion within the wider Australian society. On the other hand, the allocation of financial resources with the focus on awareness campaigns has also led to a lack of financial support for centres that provide the frontline services to victims of domestic violence (Berlage 2018).
In her discussion of this change in the state policy, Berlage (2018) introduces a valid and reasonable argument, which calls for a change in the current policy. Although building awareness is essential in preventing and addressing cases of domestic violence, victims should remain as the priority. As such, by addressing the needs of those who suffer from domestic violence, one can contribute to a gradual improvement of the current situation.
The Author’s Argument
In the article under analysis, the author’s opinion is influenced by a liberal feminist philosophy and social justice ideology. For instance, Berlage tends to focus on the effects of domestic violence on women without victimising the latter, aligning with feminism principles (Fellner, Fernández-Morales & Martausová 2017). Indeed, domestic abuse poses a permanent threat to women as a vulnerable group (Lockton & Ward 2016).
Therefore, Berlage focuses on the problems of female victims, while at the same time avoids stereotypes and labels by using phrases such as “women’s refuges” (Berlage 2018) and mentioning the case of Rosie Batty (Berlage 2018). In addition, the author incorporates the ideas of social justice in her article by pointing to the lack of societal concern for the identified budgetary issue. Specifically, Berlage renders the significance of “concessions for women’s safety” (Berlage 2018). However, this does not imply that the information represented in it is biased. For instance, Berlage never mentions that men should be seen as the only source of danger for women’s well-being, mentioning instead an “intimate partner” (Berlage 2018) as a possible abuser.
The specified standpoint also reflects the principles of social justice, introducing the element of equality and equity from the author’s perspective. Although the phenomenon of social justice has recently gained negative connotations due to several misguided attempts at affecting the current social situation, the general idea of social justice remains neutral. The phenomenon implies rectifying the imbalance of power within contemporary society by providing the minority with a voice to express their opinions (Jaeger, Taylor & Gorham 2015).
For instance, the author implies that a male minister for women-related issues is unlikely to meet the needs of the vulnerable demographic by calling the previous budget “scuttled” by Tony Abbot (Berlage 2018). Similarly, Berlage appeals to the statistical data showing that women are much more vulnerable than men and, thus, require protection from the state: “One in six Australian women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime” (Berlage 2018).
This statement is supported by another appeal to the idea of equity as the basis for social justice. Specifically, Berlage claims that “24 women have been killed this year” (Berlage 2018). Furthermore, the author points to the fact that 70 experts of the services assisting women suffering from abuse have been made “redundant” (Berlage 2018). Finally, the author refers to the absence of “secure, sustainable, long term funding for frontline domestic services” (Berlage 2018) for Australians, and argues on behalf of the society, based on the principles of social justice.
Berlage provides a very strong argument about the current framework for managing budgetary issues and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations. Personally, I agree with the viewpoints of the author since there is a strong need to support victims of abuse and help them rehabilitate and recover from any psychological and /or physical traumas.
However, the necessity to build awareness regarding the serious situation in which abused women find themselves is also very high. While funding the services that offer assistance to victims of domestic abuse is critical, strategies for preventing the specified scenarios also have to be deployed and financed respectively. Consequently, the only available solution to the specified dilemma is to allocate available resources in a way that both keeps people informed about the key issues and, also, provides abused women with shelters. This approach will help create the measures needed to prevent domestic violence, address the instances thereof, and mitigate any potentially negative outcomes.
Indeed, when considering the problem of domestic violence in general, and violence against women in particular, one should keep in mind that there are several populations that should be taken into account by social services. The first, and most obvious, are the actual victims of domestic abuse who must be given the treatment and care that they need. These victims comprise two distinct groups, adults and children, each requiring a specific set of measures. The people that face the threat of domestic abuse, such as women and children living in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods, should also be provided with assistance, and the organisations offering respective services have to be funded accordingly.
Because of the necessity to consider a wide range of audiences, the government has to be very careful with the available budget and the choices that they make regarding its allocation. Since each of the target populations needs corresponding resources, and none of the audiences can be neglected without dire consequences, the government has to seek compromises in managing the specified issues, hence the dilemma.
Although I agree with Berlage’s statement regarding meeting the needs of women and children suffering from abuse, I also have to admit that there are valid reasons for the Australian government to allocate budgetary resources in the way that they have chosen. Specifically, given the fact that the rates of domestic abuse have been on a decline in Australia since the adoption of the corresponding legislation, the issues associated with the subject matter were prioritised in accordance with the changes.
Nevertheless, I agree that it is necessary to allocate funds to organisations that provide protection against domestic violence so that the specified services can continue to fund the work of frontline staff members. Thus, cases of domestic abuse can be identified faster, and vulnerable groups will be provided with assistance and support. Personally, I have witnessed the situation in which my friend suffered physical and emotional abuse from her husband yet could not escape as she had a 12-month-old daughter and no job.
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Therefore, the significance of investing in organisations addressing the needs of domestic violence victims is also grounded in the need to provide the victims thereof with a range of resources for sustaining their health and economic well-being, as well as providing them with legal support. For instance, when taking the problem of family abuse to court, the victims of violence require competent legal assistance, hence the necessity to invest in the development of the specified organisations. Raising the levels of awareness among wider audiences, in turn, can also be achieved by using other tools, such as social media networks, which incur fewer expenses and can provide faster dissemination of data.
Berlage, E 2018, ‘Budget slights domestic violence services’, Eureka Street. Web.
Fellner, AM, Fernández-Morales, M & Martausová, M 2017, Rethinking gender in popular culture in the 21st century: Marlboro men and California gurls, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge, UK.
Jaeger, PT, Taylor, NG & Gorham, U 2015, Libraries, human rights, and social justice: enabling access and promoting inclusion, Rowman & Littlefield, New York, NY.
Lockton, D & Ward, R 2016, Domestic violence, Routledge, New York, NY.