(Sydney) 28th May, 2020 – Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) while welcoming the additional funding to domestic violence services announced recently by NSW Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, asks, why is the amount so paltry when it is meant to be spread across 180 different women’s services, 84 of which are women’s refuges?

WEL NSW spokesperson, Jozefa Sobski, lamented the lateness of this additional funding and its tokenistic nature. Ms. Sobski said, “This allocation of $21.6 million will see some services receive as little as $3500, with no service receiving more than $150,000. A funding boost does not mean an increase in ongoing funding which is what is needed. All it will do is relieve a little of the tremendous burden that has been placed on already fully stretched services to address COVID 19 impacts. The Government cannot be serious in giving this additional amount so much fanfare.”

WEL has spoken with some of the recipients of this “boost” and they are adamant that funds can cover only the most urgent needs and not for very long. All services are experiencing increasing complexity working with women fleeing domestic violence.

A six month “pop-up” safe house in Manly is being created to give highly vulnerable women and their children temporary and emergency accommodation.

Ms Sobski comments, “Why Manly and why a “pop-up”? Is the Government taking the situation around the state in so many affected communities seriously, when one part of the funding is going to a “pop-up”? We need permanent facilities, like refuges to be adequately funded and staffed. We don’t need endless small funding packages which do not allow for adequate planning or appropriate recruitment of qualified and experienced staff. Services need to build their capacity. They need certainty. Is this “pop-up” a new model of delivering domestic violence support services? Where has this model been trialed? What is the evidence for its effectiveness?

There is nothing in the package for women on temporary visas. There is a token gesture to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, people with a disability, multicultural communities. LGBTIQ communities and women living in rural and remote communities.
Frontline support services and women’s refuges will be the major recipients of this additional money, but no details of the eventual proportions to be allocated to them were provided in the Minister’s announcement. WEL hopes that the additional money will be built into the State Budget for these essential domestic violence services on a continuing basis.