AWAVA welcomes Third Action Plan, calls for better homelessness service funding
3 November 2016
AWAVA welcomes the publication of the Third Action Plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
We are pleased to see that the Action Plan recognises the role of specialist women’s services in our national response to violence against women. It is very positive that the Plan commits governments to “assess and work to address the immediate, medium-term and long-term accommodation needs of women who are escaping violence.”
We also welcome the increased emphasis in this Action Plan on actions relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Several positive actions relating to women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds have also been announced, including improving visa pathways, which have been welcomed by the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia. It is also positive that the Third Action Plan increases the visibility of sexual violence and addresses the impacts of violence on children.
However, AWAVA like many other peak bodies and community groups believes that a much larger investment of funding is required to genuinely address service needs and strengthen prevention efforts. The Victorian Government recently committed $572 million to begin implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. We urgently need commensurate funding from the Commonwealth and other State and Territory governments.
Safe and appropriate housing is critical for women and children attempting to build lives free of violence. Yet at present every day there are over 300 requests for homelessness services that cannot be met within existing funding. Many of these are women and children seeking assistance after being subjected to domestic and family violence: 36% of all clients seeking help.
More generally, women’s services need expanded funding to meet increasing demand, and greater funding security. These include women’s legal services, services against sexual violence and community led services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and other groups. As awareness rises about government efforts to eliminate violence, demand for services rises too: a predicted and positive outcome, but one that must be met with a greater investment of funding.
In the immediate term we need at least a minimum five year extension for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH), which is due to come to an end in June 2017. Full indexation plus increased investment in homelessness services is urgently needed to meet growing demand. If this agreement is not renewed it will strip significant resources from domestic and family violence specialist services. Funding security is needed for services funded under the NPAH, while governments work collaboratively with all stakeholders to develop a secure, dedicated and appropriate funding system that will properly support the multifaceted work of the diverse services in our sector.
For media inquiries, please contact Merrindahl Andrew, Program Manager (ph: 0428 541 396).
Media comment will also be available from Julie Oberin (AWAVA Chair) and Margaret Augerinos (AWAVA Advisory Group Executive member) alongside the COAG Housing and Homelessness Ministers’ meeting on Friday 4 November.