Women’s safety services are calling on the nation’s leaders to commit to ongoing funding relief at today’s National Cabinet meeting as record numbers of women and children experiencing violence reach out for support.
Women’s Safety Ministers met this week to discuss the “rot” of domestic violence across Australia and what needs to be done to stamp it out.
Ahead of the meeting, family, domestic and sexual violence agencies wrote to Ministers advising them of unprecedented client demand and pleading for a continuation of the $150 million supplementary funding package delivered in 2020 to assist with the increased demand and complexity of matters emerging throughout the pandemic.
Emerging from this meeting, the Commonwealth Minister for Women’s Safety, Anne Ruston announced further consultation measures for the development of the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children from 2022 but did not commit to additional funding support for frontline family, domestic and sexual violence services in the meantime.
“We’re really pleased to see a commitment to a much more comprehensive and ambitious national plan from next year,” says Hayley Foster, chief executive officer of Women’s Safety NSW “But we cannot turn our backs on women and children seeking safety and support right now and over the next 12 months.”
Minister Ruston told the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday that she was seeking information from the states and territories about the expenditure of the 2020 funds to ensure “programs into the future are targeted to areas of greatest need.”
However, women’s safety organisations along with state governments say all the money has been allocated and that without continued funding, frontline family, domestic and sexual violence services will be forced to cut their workforce meaning women and children will be turned away from the services they need to be safe.
“It’s really important that we don’t pull the rug out from under frontline family, domestic and sexual violence services right now when they have never been under more pressure,” says Ms Foster. “It has to be our top priority that women and children experiencing violence can actually access the support they need to escape the violence and abuse they are experiencing.”
“The reality is, the most dangerous place for a woman and her children to be is in their own home”, says Ms Foster “And if they’re trying to escape that violence, we have an obligation to ensure the services are there to support them, not just next year, but now.”