Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott says new social housing and domestic violence funding worth almost $500 million announced this week will help councils support the most vulnerable members of their communities.
Cr Scott said the announcement follows calls from LGNSW, the NSW Council of Social Service and other community groups for the NSW Government to prioritise women’s economic security and urgently invest in social housing as part of this week’s united Anti Poverty Week Pink Hi-Vis Recovery campaign.
“Local government welcomes the NSW Government funding to help women and children fleeing domestic violence, given councils are often the first point of contact for people facing these types of issues, but limited in the support they can provide because of scarce resources,” Cr Scott said.
“This funding injection is also a rewarding outcome of the Pink Hi-Vis Recovery campaign and will provide a vital boost to help the most vulnerable people in our local communities, especially in rural, regional and remote areas across NSW.
“Councils efforts on this issue include the development of a national Local Government Domestic Violence Prevention Toolkit launched in November 2020 to help put a stop to violence before crisis intervention is needed.
“Unfortunately a lack of funding meant initiatives established in the trials, such as gender equality surveys and audits, ‘bystander action’ training programs for staff, and community arts activities to raise awareness of domestic and family violence, were not able to continue.
“Last year LGNSW teamed up with Domestic Violence NSW to run a series of sessions called Councils & Domestic Violence – councils are part of the solution to equip councils in efforts to prevent domestic, family and sexual violence, and many councils have also provided funding, land or facilities to keep doors of shelters and refuges open.
“More recently, following a women’s national safety summit in September this year, the Australian Local Government Association called for domestic violence officers in every state and territory local government association.”
The NSW Government funding announced this week will provide 75 new women’s shelters, taking the total to 161, and be located near support services such as legal, education and employment outlets.
Cr Scott said the announcement was recognition of an issue LGNSW and councils have long advocated for greater NSW Government support.
“We hope to see even more funding support for important domestic violence prevention work,” she said.
“At our 2016 Annual Conference councils supported development of domestic violence policies and procedures and local training to enhance their capacity to help people in their community.
“We have also fought hard for urgent improvements to social housing, calling for the NSW Government to invest in 5,000 social housing units in our 2021 NSW Budget submission, which would not only tackle the housing crisis but deliver $4.5 billion in economic output and almost 14,000 jobs.”