Valuing domestic and family violence workers

Ahead of the upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit, and in the wake of the release of the accompanying issues paper, the national peak body for specialist domestic and family violence (DFV) organisations—Women’s Services Network (WESNET)—is calling for a focus on DFV workers. Urgent work is needed to support the workforce that is so critical to women’s and children’s safety, well-being and women’s economic security.


WESNET National Chair Julie Oberin AM said,

“Domestic and family violence workers are among the nation’s most essential workers in terms of saving and rebuilding the lives of women and children, and yet they are also among the most precariously under-valued—and there are not enough of them. 

“The funding of the specialist domestic and family violence sector such as women’s shelters and other service models—where the primarily not-for-profit organisations are forced to rely on uncertain and insufficient funding—often leads to poor employment outcomes. Services often cannot offer workers job security or remuneration that is commensurate with the level of skill and complexity of work required of their workers. Underfunding and understaffing is leading to overwhelming caseloads and an inability to respond to the rising demand for support.

These are systemic issues that must be addressed. If the new Government is serious about addressing violence against women—and so far indications have been promising that it is—it must prioritise building and valuing the workforce and supporting these organisations.”


WESNET calls on both the Jobs and Skills Summit and the soon-to-be-released National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children to recognise the central role of these specialist workers in supporting women, children and the community. Work in this area must be sustained by a standalone national workforce strategy and national infrastructure. It is a sector that stands largely alone in having no nationally coordinated or consistent professional standards or recognition, and no workforce support through funding WESNET as the national peak body.


Karen Bentley, Chief Executive Officer of WESNET, noted that in a recent survey of specialist domestic and family violence services, the overwhelming majority identified ‘managing workloads’ and ‘attracting staff’ as their biggest workforce challenges. 


Contact: Julie Oberin AM, National Chair, WESNET, at [email protected].