Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Women Michaelia Cash, and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty have announced a suite of measures committing the Australian Government to action on domestic violence, but have not addressed separating women's refuges and housing from homelessness services.
WEL congratulates the Australian Government on committing $100 million to specific domestic violence measures which will:
- provide frontline workers - hospital staff, police and social workers - with specialist domestic violence training;
- install domestic violence units in community legal centres; and
- address the specific needs of Indigenous women and women from CALD communities.
However, this package does not include specific, dedicated, secure and long-term funding from Commonwealth, State, and Territory governments for women's refuges and housing to ensure there is always a place of safety for women and their children escaping domestic violence.
Catherine Gander, spokesperson for the Coalition for Women's Refuges, this morning stressed on ABC 24 the need for government responses to domestic violence to include resourcing for specialist women's refuges. "Last year approximately 2,800 women were turned away [from crisis accommodation], a number that can easily be doubled or tripled if we include children," said Ms Gander. She went on to explain that while staying safely at home is a preferred option for some women experiencing domestic violence, it is not a solution for everyone. Ms Gander also identified the problematic nature of including women's refuges in government homelessness programs, explaining the character of domestic violence is starkly different from homelessness and requires specialist and integrated services, including homicide prevention.
For more information:
- WEL's proposal addressing the need for a dedicated Women's Refuges and Housing Program: wel.org.au/wrahp_proposal
- Prime Minister's Media Release: "Women's Safety Package to Stop the Violence"
- Press Conference announcing Women's Safety Package to Stop the Violence (Prime Minister, Minister for Women, Rosie Batty)