Pass all the laws you like, but women and their children fleeing domestic violence need specialised refuges.
The Women's Electoral Lobby supports the views put by Roxanne McMurray - spokeswoman for SOS Women's Services and the Manager of Leichhardt Women's Community Health Centre - in her article in The Drum today.
We further share her concern that the NSW Government continues to deny closing women's refuges. The buildings may remain, but the specialist services the women inside those buildings provided no longer do. Ms McMurray points out that "there are only a handful of specialist refuges left" in NSW.
Yesterday, NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward announced a $60 million package to target perpetrators and support women, men and children who have experienced domestic and family violence.
As Ms McMurray says,
This announcement represents a significant change in the language and is hope for much more to come. Strong police measures are necessary and welcome and the recent funding from the Federal Government is also. But the glaring problem that keeps being overlooked is: it doesn't matter how many resources the police are given, how many laws are passed, how many hotlines or education programs are funded, if women have nowhere safe to go or it's made too difficult for them to leave, they won't.
And if they stay in those dangerous situations these terrible statistics will not go down and the shocking deaths will sadly continue.
We once again call on the governments of Australia to commit specific, dedicated, secure and long-term funding for women's refuges and housing to ensure there is always a place of safety for women and their children escaping domestic violence.
For more information:
- WEL's proposal addressing the need for a dedicated Women's Refuges and Housing Program: wel.org.au/wrahp_proposal
- Disclosing Perpetrators Violent Past (NSW Government Media Release, 14 October 2015)
- Domestic Violence Offenders to Face Mandated Behaviour Change Programs (NSW Government Media Release, 14 October 2015)
- Enough is Enough (NSW Government Media Release, 14 October 2015)
- Funding Boost for Domestic Violence Crisis Services (NSW Government Media Release, 14 October 2015)
- Police Teams to Target DFV Offenders (NSW Government Media Release, 14 October 2015)
- A Stronger Response to Sexual Assault (NSW Government Media Release, 14 October 2015)