The NSW government has announced a $100 million investment into improving women’s safety in public places, at home and in the workplace.
The multi-faceted investment package, part of next week’s budget, will address sexual harassment at work, improve support systems for domestic violence victim-survivors and enhance women’s safety in public spaces.
$4.8 million will be spent on a new taskforce administered by Safe Work NSW to address sexual harassment at work.
The taskforce will focus on training and guidance in specific, “high-risk” industries that are male-dominated and ensure employers are taking initiatives to eradicate harassment of employees by holding them accountable if they don’t comply with their responsibilities to ensure the safety of female employees.
Minister for Fair Trading Eleni Petinos said Safe Work will be focusing on those high-risk workplaces.
“We know sexual harassment is a problem in our workplaces … one-in-four women reported sexual harassment in the last five years,” she said.
Petinos said the investment will also work on addressing on the findings from the 2019 Respect at Work Report by Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, which revealed the shocking prevalence of harassment at work.
Domestic Violence Victim / Survivor Support
$69 million has been allocated to the Safer Pathways project, which will provide more integrated support systems for domestic violence victim-survivors and offer more case management services.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the government is “continuing to make our justice fairer, less traumatic, quicker and less expensive for all participants, especially victim-survivors of D and sexual violence.”
Safer Pathways will use the investment to develop the police database used to refer people onto support service.
An expansion of audio-visual link facilities in roughly 50 NSW courts and tribunals will also be developed, allowing victim-survivors to give evidence remotely, which will minimise their trauma.
Court-appointed officers will receiving training in cross-examining survivors. Last year, new legislation ensured that self-represented defendants could no longer be permitted to examine domestic violence complainants.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said it was an “absolute travesty that one-in-six people across our great country suffer from sexual harassment or violence from a current or former partner.”
“We have made big inroads over a period of time but it’s still a blight on our state and nation. As a government and a people, we need to do better.”
$30 million has been invested over the next two years to ensure women’s safety in public spaces after dark.
More street lighting and CCTV in public parks will be installed, as well as upgrades to foot traffic.
The first developments will occur at Parramatta Park and The Rocks precinct in Sydney, before further areas around the city and regional areas will be improved.
An anti-street harassment campaign is also in the making, with the aim to improve community attitudes and create awareness.
Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward said the project indicates the government is listening to women and girls by providing safer cities.
Treasurer Matt Kean believes many women remain too scared to walk around Sydney after dark.
“I have heard too many stories of women taking the long way home to avoid dark streets, or calling a friend while walking in case something goes wrong,” he said.
“When women are walking home from work they shouldn’t have to fear what’s lurking in the shadows.”