The Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) welcomes the release today of the Federal Government’s Women’s Safety Package, and acknowledges the leadership shown by the Prime Minister and other Ministers in moving emphatically to make violence against women and gender equality a priority.
AWAVA is pleased that the package includes steps towards using technology for women’s safety, extra funding for school anti-violence programs and programs to improve the capacity of GPs and other service providers to respond effectively to women living in violence.
We also welcome the fact that the package clearly identifies women’s safety as its focus, and that it includes some measures recognising the different experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women living in remote locations and women from marginalised cultural or linguistic backgrounds (although not of women with disabilities).
However, we also reiterate our call and that of many other organisations for adequate resourcing for the full range of programs and services needed to support women. These include domestic violence support and outreach services, services against sexual violence, refuges, and women’s legal services.
We hope that the focused nature of this morning’s announcement means that we can expect a broader commitment in the near future, ensuring all levels of government work together to provide realistic funding of services.
While relieving pressure on services such as refuges is a worthy goal, this should be done by funding increases; it should not be assumed that ‘safe at home’ programs can offset the severe shortfall in resourcing experienced by services.
Even if programs to support women to stay safe in their homes are effective, the level of demand is so extreme that continued under-funding will continue to turn women away from the services that should be empowered to help us.
AWAVA also warns that a genuinely holistic approach will need to empower women economically and give women realistic and well-resourced legal options.
These broader supports will require policy-makers to improve women’s experiences across a range of areas and portfolios, especially:
- employment (in relation to awards, minimum wage cases and parental leave),
- law (in relation to the funding of legal services and enforcement of apprehended violence orders) and
- income support (in relation to the level of payments and the conditions imposed on women receiving them).
We look forward to the longer-term social change work that we hope will develop from the national campaign.
As Rosie Batty stated at the press conference, decades of work have gotten us to where we are today, and we need to continue the collective effort and have the difficult debates that are the only way to achieve change. AWAVA urges local groups, activists and advocates both within and beyond government to continue their efforts so that the current up-swelling of awareness makes a lasting positive difference.
Julie Oberin, AWAVA Chair
Ph: 0419 539 346
Merrindahl Andrew, AWAVA Program Manager
Ph: 0428 541 396