Sydney woke this morning to the news of another woman being killed in what appears to be a violent homicide, and yet when women’s safety advocates trawled through the budget papers this morning, they found no evidence of the NSW Government investing in any of their recommendations to tackle this issue head on.
Instead, there seemed to be endless announcements of investments in infrastructure projects with a strong emphasis on building and improving sporting and recreational facilities.
As an example, we asked for an injection of modest $14 million per annum to ensure women and their children who have experienced domestic and family violence are supported from woe-to-go in obtaining the safety, social and legal supports they need to go on to live lives free from violence- right across NSW.
Instead, it was regarded as more important to invest $33.4 million in upgrading a single Motorsport Park or $3 million in a Rifle Club. The list of announcements for such projects were relentless.
Last year in NSW, Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCASs) supported around 45,863 women with 40,130 accompanying children impacted by domestic and family violence. Most had been referred to us through a police incident. These client numbers represent a more than 100% increase over the past 4-5 years, but funding has only increased by 25% in that time leaving services stretched – unable to provide vital post-crisis support to women and their children to assist them in escaping and recovering from the violence. And that’s the women and children who get to us. No announcements were made in today’s budget about opening up more referral pathways to support from health, education and other social services, so many women and children at risk of, and experiencing violence will continue to fall through the cracks.
“This is about priorities”, says Hayley Foster, WDVCAS NSW Director. “Women and children are being terrorised in their own homes at endemic rates and yet we are not seeing the NSW Government commit to implementing the recommendations of the experts in addressing this crisis. The time for sitting around and talking about the tragedies is over. We need action to support victims, break the cycle and prevent domestic and family violence, now.”
WDVCAS NSW notes the investments made in public services, such as education, child care, health, police and courts will have a positive effect for families and looks forward to working with government, non-government and private sector partners to look for opportunities for collaboration for the benefit for women and children’s safety. However, Foster points outs that without targeted interventions across the prevention, early intervention and tertiary spectrum, we cannot realistically hope to achieve substantial reductions in violence against women and their children in our communities.
“It’s time for the NSW Government to get serious about addressing this issue. Community safety should be the number one priority of a good government, and substantial numbers of women and children are not safe in NSW.” says Foster. “Work with us to end this crisis, so that women, children and communities can live safe family lives free from violence and meet their full potential. Because, without safety and a roof over one’s head, a new sporting ground or clubhouse isn’t much use.”
WDVCAS NSW is the peak body for women’s domestic and family violence specialist services providing the primary response to women and their children impacted by domestic and family violence across NSW. WDVCAS member services supported 45,863 women with 40,130 accompanying children across NSW in 2018, providing 193,680 occasions of support across its WDVCAS, Safer Pathway and Family Advocacy Support Services (FASSs). WDVCAS NSW also represent a range of associate members from women’s housing and homelessness providers, women’s legal services, women’s information and referral services, staying home leaving violence providers and women’s health centres.
WDVCAS NSW advocates on the systemic issues impacting upon women and children who have experienced domestic and family violence through legislative, policy and practice reform.