Budget sees welcome investment in settlement services, but under delivers for migrant women experiencing domestic violence

May 16, 2024 | Media Release

15 May 2024

The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) has welcomed the investment of $120.0 million in settlement services announced in last night’s Federal Budget. 

SCOA’s Chair, Ms Melissa Monteiro, said “Migrant and refugee services are critical infrastructure in a country as diverse as Australia. An adequately funded settlement sector is essential to ensuring Australia is a country where everyone belongs, thrives, and experiences fulfilling lives.”

The Council has long advocated for improved investment in settlement services. Cost of living pressures, domestic and family violence, housing shortages and other issues are on the rise for all Australians, and migrants and refugees are not immune. However, over many years, a lack of investment meant the pressures grew at a faster rate than the sector’s capacity to support communities.

CEO, Ms Sandra Elhelw, said “The Minister for Immigration has been a strong supporter of the work committed people in our sector do every day at the grass roots level, and I am grateful for the meaningful recognition of this work in this Budget. The injection of funds into the Humanitarian Support Program, which supports refugees from the moment they first arrive in Australia, is especially welcome as every cent invested helps set our newest arrivals up for success.”

However, the Council is concerned that while overall investment has increased, funding to support migrant and refugee women experiencing domestic and family violence has decreased significantly compared to previous years.

In the 2021-22 Federal Budget, the Government committed $29.3 million over three years to fund settlement services to support migrant and refugee women experiencing violence. Services have since been overwhelmed with demand, having to stretch this funding incredibly thin. This measure was due to expire at the end of this financial year. The 2024-25 Budget extends the measure, but with substantially less funding than previously available.
Ms Elhelw said “In an environment where one woman is killed a week on average in Australia, we need to be increasing the investment in supporting women experiencing violence, not decreasing it. This reduction in funding will mean fewer women will be supported to leave violent relationships, which is exactly the opposite of what we hoped to see from this Budget.”
She added, “I hope this gap will be addressed as National Cabinet continues to deliberate over how to address the crisis of violence against women in this country. Migrant and refugee women are not a small minority and deserve culturally appropriate support.”
The Council noted there were no announcements in relation to the Government’s Multicultural Framework Review and its response to it, however was hopeful that specific measures to respond to the needs of migrant and refugee women would be included among future announcements related to the review. 

Budget measures of particular relevance to the settlement sector include:

  • $86.6 million over five years for the Humanitarian Settlement Program
  • $27.0 million over three years from 2024–25 to extend targeted support, including:
    o Extending Youth Transition Support services
    o specialised support for refugee and migrant women experiencing domestic and family violence as part of the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) Program
    o settlement support for Afghan humanitarian entrants
  • $1.0 million in 2025–26 to extend the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot to 30 June 2026
  • $3.8 million over four years to continue conversational English classes through Community Hubs
  • $1.9 million over five years from 2023–24 to extend access to Medicare for Ukrainians and their immediate family members, who hold a Bridging visa E, until 30 June 2027
  • $2.0 million financial hardship assistance over two years to support individuals and their families from significantly affected areas of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This will be delivered through the Australian Red Cross. 
  • $0.9 million over two years from 2023–24 to extend Medicare eligibility to 30 June 2025 for Bridging Visa E holders arriving from significantly affected areas of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  • $15.0 million over three years from 2024–25 for information and education activities tackling the exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.
  • $16.5 million over five years from 2023–24 (and $5.1 million in 2028–29) to continue to provide legal assistance for temporary visa holders leaving a violent relationship.


For media enquiries or to arrange an interview, contact Sandra Elhelw at ceo@scoa.org.au or on (02) 6282 8515.