The NSW government will spend nearly $500 million to help tackle domestic and family violence and establish extra women’s refuges across the state. The funding package, announced on Tuesday, is the single biggest investment in domestic and family violence in the state’s history.
The investment includes $426.6 million over four years to deliver and operate around 75 extra women’s refuges.
The refuges will be part of the “Core and Cluster” model, involving self-contained accommodation located next to services like counselling, legal assistance, education, and employment support. The refuge sites also have meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment for court appearances, communal kitchens and playgrounds.
NSW Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said there is high demand in the community for domestic violence services, like women’s refuges.
“In 2019-20, almost 40 per cent of the people who accessed specialists homelessness services in NSW, across our cities, regional and rural communities, had experienced domestic abuse,” Taylor said.
“One of the most important things we can do in government is to ensure that when a victim-survivor makes the courageous decision to leave a violent home – a time when she actually faces the greatest risk – that there’s a secure, supportive environment waiting to help her.”
$52.5 million will also be put towards the government’s Community Housing Innovation Fund partnership with the community housing sector, and another $5.2 million has been dedicated to a trial in two districts to provide dedicated supports for accompanied children and young people who are either experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said specialist homelessness services supported more than 8,200 children in families experiencing domestic violence in the 2019-2020 period.
“Our trail will help us support 3,200 additional children and young people with trauma informed care and education supports,” he said.
Chair of Domestic Violence NSW Annabelle Daniel welcomed the funding package.
“We are pleased to see this new funding announcement recognising the urgent need for refuge supports in rural, regional and remote areas and across NSW,” Daniel said.
“Specialist domestic and family violence services are a lifeline for women and children fleeing abuse and do the work of many agencies combined. We know the numbers of people in need being turned away are continuously increasing due to lack of space. When we raise awareness about domestic and family violence, women raise their hands for help.”
“Everyone has the right to live a life free from violence and abuse, a right that is far too often callously eroded by those who perpetrate domestic violence,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Today’s commitment will help to reduce the often devastating impacts of domestic abuse by providing timely access to safe, affordable and appropriate supports and housing assistance so that women and children who bravely escape violence can begin to recover and thrive.”
Image: NSW Minister for Women, Bronnie Taylor.