The chair of a peak body representing Indigenous survivors of family violence has said the Coalition government's decision to axe its annual funding was based on a recent independent evaluation, that in fact recommends greater resourcing.
The National FVPLS advocates on behalf of 13 member organisations who work against family violence in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
An additional FVPLS organisation operates outside the national forum.
On Friday, the Chair of the National FVPLS Forum and Kuku Yalanji woman, Antoinette Braybrook, told NITV News that the evaluation, conducted by Charles Darwin University and tabled in October, looked at the individual services of the thirteen member organisations as well as the national Secretariat.
"Now, we are concerned because not one of those recommendations in that report say that we, our Secretariat, should be defunded.
"In fact, every recommendation points to us requiring more resources to undertake our national work."
Formed in 2012, the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (National FVPLS) was recently operating on annual funding of $244,000, but this week it emerged that the federal Coalition government would cut its funding from June 2020.
The funding for the peak body was provided by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) under Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt.
On Friday afternoon, a NIAA spokesperson provided a written statement to NITV News that said the Government remained committed to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors of family violence and listening to the voices of women and children.
The spokesperson said the 13 FVPLS services under the Secretariat of the the National FVPLS would continue to be funded and receive an increase in dollars between 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2023, consistent with the recommendations in the independent evaluation.
However, funding arrangements for the National FVPLS Secretariat would cease on 30 June 2020.
The spokesperson said the decision to defund the Secretariat was informed by the findings and recommendations of the independent evaluation.
"The Government is committed to working with all 14 FVPLS providers across the sector on best arrangements to maintain a national forum going forward," said the statement.
PM defends cuts
Earlier, the Prime Minister defended the funding cuts but said all budget allocations were still being considered.
“There's issues of ongoing funding across the budget. There would be a budget for 2021 and we'll consider all these matters in the normal way,” he said.
A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women nationally are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence and 10 times more likely to die from a violent assault than other women in Australia.
Ms Braybrook claimed the decision to axe the funding was silencing Aboriginal women.
“Yet again we are forced to fight to get our funding back," she said.
"This not only drains our already limited resources… It rips Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s voices out of critical national conversations.”
New government role for Gold Logie winner
Meanwhile, the PM has also defended employing celebrity TV tradie, Scott Cam, as a ‘National Careers Ambassador’.
At a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday, it was revealed that Mr Cam would receive a $345,000 paycheck for the role.
Department of Employment and Skills officials told the hearing Mr Cam would be paid $260,000 in this financial year and $85,000 in 2020-21.
His appointment was announced by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash in August, but the government would not reveal his pay at the time.
Mr Cam's taxpayer-funded role will see him work with the National Careers Institute, alongside government, industry, education providers, career advisers, parents and employers to improve career options.
The Gold Logie winner will highlight how practical and technical training can lead to high-paying jobs.
“I make no apology for trying to get young people into trades,” the Prime Minister said.
“We need to get young people understanding the opportunity there is of taking on trade and skills education so they can see the wonderful economic opportunities that would be for them by going into these areas.”
– This article was updated at 3.30pm to include a response requested from the National Indigenous Australians Agency.