11 February 2019
An NGO Alliance working to end violence against women has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of $78 million to increase accommodation for women and children facing family violence, but has raised questions about how the funds will be delivered.
Australian Women Against Violence Alliance has also questioned whether other services and prevention programs will be adequately funded under the yet-to-be released Fourth Action Plan* of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
“It is good that Government has heard the message about the critical need for additional crisis accommodation, and is also continuing to invest in safe-at-home programs,” said Dr Merrindahl Andrew, Program Manager of Australian Women Against Violence Alliance.
“However, any reforms to increase support to victims/survivors of family violence need to be integrated with the existing specialist women’s services sector, rather than creating discrete new services,” Dr Andrew said.
“We are seeking answers to the many questions that are being raised about this announcement, and we look forward to providing strong input from the sector as the policy detail is worked out.”
“For example, grants will be made to ‘eligible organisations’ but we do not know what the criteria are.”
“Funding to support victims/survivors should go to specialist women’s services, who are qualified and have the skills to assist women through the complex process of building a life free of violence.”
“How is this announcement going to assist women on temporary visas, many of whom are currently unable to access crisis accommodation because of migration and welfare rules?”
“We share the commitment to shift to a situation where women and children are supported to remain safely in their home if that is their choice, rather than being forced to leave, and we welcome the continuation of funding to safe-at-home programs.”
“However, these programs need to be integrated with existing specialist services, and provide funding for case management. Changing locks or installing CCTV are only one part of the support that women and children need.”
“Violence against women is a complex and massive issue that goes beyond family violence crisis responses and housing.”
“The Fourth Action Plan will need to encompass sexual violence, harassment and assault against women on campus, violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women with disability, trafficking and exploitation, primary prevention, women’s diverse backgrounds and situations, and the many types of violence to which women are subjected, including technology-facilitated abuse.”
“Other programs funded under the previous Women’s Safety Package also need ongoing investment, such as those for technology safety training and which provide safe phones for victims/survivors of family violence.”
“All of these issues require Commonwealth funding, so we will be looking for substantial funding commitments to bring a holistic Fourth Action Plan into place later this year,” Dr Andrew said.
Contact: Dr Merrindahl Andrew, AWAVA Program Manager
ph: 0428 541 396
*Download our position paper that offers a comprehensive structure that policy-makers might find useful in conceptualising the priority areas for the Fourth Action Plan.