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Despite the repeated headlines, today’s budget ignored those harmed by domestic violence. According to advocates, no progress can be made until the government takes the issue seriously.
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 today’s budget papers, they found no evidence of the NSW Government investing in any of their recommendations to tackle the issue.
As an example, the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS) asked for an injection of $14 million per annum (roughly half the $33 million slated to upgrade the Sydney Motorsport Park) to, per their website, “to ensure women and their children who have experienced domestic and family violence are supported in obtaining the safety, social and legal support needed to live a life free of violence.”
Last year in NSW, WDVCAS supported around 45,863 women with 40,130 accompanying children impacted by domestic and family violence. Most had been referred to them 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 the same time period.
“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. 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.”
While WDVCAS notes the positive effects that the investments made in public services (such as education, child care, health, police and courts) will have, Foster states out 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 children.
“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.”