The plan has been slammed by experts.
The plan has been slammed by experts. CONTRIBUTED

Experts label new domestic violence plan 'dangerous'

MACKAY Women's Services is deeply concerned with the Federal Government's plan to fund couples counselling where domestic violence occurs.

The pledge of $10 million in grants for counselling is part of a larger package called the Specialised Family Violence Services grant opportunity.

Mackay Women's Services director, Dr Anne Butcher said the Federal Government had completely missed the point on what constituted domestic and family violence.

"Domestic violence is about coercive power and control over another. So couples counselling can be very dangerous,” Dr Butcher said.

"The areas that really need this sort of injection of funding are the frontline services assisting victims of domestic and family violence and creating more refuge and crisis accommodation.”

Dawson MP George Christensen said funding for counselling was just part of a larger funding response.

"I understand the need for emergency accommodation in the Mackay region and I am continuing discussions with relevant women's groups and service providers, as well as the Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services Luke Howarth, in an effort to secure Safe Places funding for people impacted by domestic and family violence.”

Dr Butcher said she believed the Federal Government was simply attempting to 'make good' on a commitment to resolve issues surrounding the family law courts.

"This is their way of channelling some money into relationship counselling, to try and mediate cases before they go to family law court or expedite them through the courts,” Dr Butcher said.

"I think it's fundamentally wrong for the government to label it as 'domestic family violence counselling' when it's not.”

Grave concern was the consensus among many frontline DFV services across Australia, including Queensland's Domestic Violence Services Network.

QDVSN chief Gabrielle Borggaard said the organisation did not support the Federal Government's investment into couples counselling.

"Research and experts agree that couples counselling is inappropriate and can be dangerous when there is domestic violence,” Ms Borggaard said.

"If the government is serious about the safety of women and children experiencing domestic violence they need to immediately review their approach by revising the grant immediately.”

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