WEL's End Violence Against Women and Girls Action Group works to challenge the consistently high levels of domestic and other violence experienced by women in Australian society, and to promote and maintain the issue in the national political agenda.
Domestic and family violence impacts on all aspects of victims’ lives, including in areas such as housing, childcare and access to employment. Women and their children leaving violence in the home must have access to specialist women's domestic/family violence refuges and front-line services. Survivors must be supported to maintain their paid employment or be provided with a means of financial security whilst experiencing or leaving situations of violence.
WEL Priorities 2019 - 2022
1. The Commonwealth Government should commit $1 billion over 5 years matched dollar for dollar by state and territory governments for a long term and securely funded Commonwealth/State national program for 24-hour accessible women’s refuges, frontline outreach services and transitional accommodation – a Women and Children Safety Program.
2. There should be ear-marked funds for services which work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women with disabilities, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, LGBTQI services and women who live in regional, rural and remote areas.
(from WEL's 2019 Federal Election Priorities document and pre-election Scorecard)
The cost of violence against women and their children to the Australian economy, according to Our Watch (2016), is calculated to rise to $15.6 billion by 2022 without the right preventive action. Australia’s domestic violence homicide rate and police response rates to domestic violence incidents are at an all-time high.
There is a range of funded programs at a state and federal level that are designed to meet the needs of women and children who are experiencing or needing to escape domestic and family violence. WEL supports the Fourth National Action Plan 2019-2022 and the detailed measures outlined in AWAVA’s response on each priority area. These priorities should be adequately funded, by all governments.
Since the abolition (2012) of the Supported Assistance Accommodation Act (SAAP), some states have moved away from the funding and provision of specialist domestic and family violence services such as women’s refuges to a generalist homeless approach in service modelling. Continuously for forty years the Commonwealth Government has co-funded (with the states) women’s refuges and other frontline domestic violence services. This funding came to an end on 30 June 2018. This has resulted in fewer specialist services for domestic violence victims. The new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement came into force from July, 2018. There is no new money allocated for its implementation.
Prevention measures are essential to reduce domestic violence in the long-term but, with the current rate of domestic violence in Australia, adequate crisis services are essential to saving lives. These services are needed for the nearly 121,100 adults and children seeking help from specialist homelessness service agencies for domestic and family violence (AIHW Annual Report on Specialist Homelessness Services 2017-18).
WEL, strongly supported by the National Foundation for Australian Women, and over 30 women’s and community organisations representing thousands of supporters, campaigned for long term funding of a Commonwealth/state national program (Women and Children’s Safety Program) for 24-hour accessible women’s refuges, frontline outreach services and transitional accommodation.
WEL’s proposal focused on reinstating a nationally consistent and adequately funded program that has bipartisan support and is enshrined in legislation. The program would be separated from the current homelessness programs which do not in some states adequately serve the specific needs of women and children escaping violence. Escaping domestic violence is vastly different in character from general homelessness and requires specialised programs. It is a crisis situation, which, with the specialist help provided by refuges, may eventually see women and their children returning to their home and community.
In May 2018, WEL handed over postcards signed by thousands of supporters requesting additional funding for women's domestic violence refuges and support services to cross-party politicians at NSW Parliament House. Read more
IN 2017 WEL continued to campaign for secure and increased long-term funding for specialist domestic violence services including women’s refuges/shelters and safe-houses. Despite the increased media attention given to the rates of violence against women in Australia, with the exception of Victoria, funding to frontline services that respond to the immediate and longer term needs of women and children experiencing and escaping domestic and family violence remain inadequate.
After further consultation, WEL refocused the campaign towards achieving prioritisation of women’s specialist domestic and family violence services within the Commonwealth/State Homelessness Program. We worked in partnership with the Equality Rights Alliance (ERA) and Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) in advocating for a prioritisation of women specialist services in the Commonwealth National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA).
Read in full here.