Joint letter to Women’s Safety Ministers: five urgent safety actions to lock in

Domestic and family violence experts have written to governments calling for them to make five urgent and immediate changes to improve women’s safety.

The letter, launched by Australian Violence Against Women Alliance and Fair Agenda, has been signed by 84 groups working for women's safety so far, and was sent to Women's Safety Ministers ahead of their meeting last week.

Dear Women’s Safety Ministers,

As specialists with years of experience working with and for women and children subjected to violence, we know that long-term, major reforms are needed over the coming months and years to achieve lasting improvements to safety and justice.

We also know there are key changes your governments can make immediately that will dramatically improve the safety of many women and children within weeks.

As well as committing to comprehensive reform to prevent all forms of violence against women, we urge you to action these five desperately needed changes at your meeting on Friday: 

  1. Fully fund the specialist services that improve women’s safety, and hold men who use violence to account, including:
    • The safety planning, risk assessment and wrap-around individual support provided by specialist women’s services, 
    • The safe at home programs and emergency accommodation services provided by specialist homelessness providers working specifically with victim-survivors of violence,
    • The legal assistance and representation provided by specialist women’s legal services, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, community legal centres, Aboriginal legal services, and Legal Aid,
    • The perpetrator intervention, men’s behaviour change programs and fathering programs provided by accredited men’s behaviour change experts,
    • The specialist and culturally-safe services that are best able to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women from migrant and refugee backgrounds,
    • The disability advocacy and domestic violence services needed to support women with disabilities to overcome the barriers to achieving safety after violence from a partner, carer or in an institutional setting,
    • The safe phones program, which has been found be effective in delivering victims/survivors greater technology safety, 
    • LGBTIQ+ services and LGBTIQ+-specific resources, programs and targeted community education campaigns,
    • Supporting community-based services to lead the conversations needed to change the attitudes and behaviours that enable violence, including empowering bystanders.
  2. Remove the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and emphasis on shared parenting in the Family Law Act 1975, to ensure a child’s safety and wellbeing are the key considerations, so that courts are determining the best parenting arrangement for their needs and circumstances.
  3. Initiate a standard screening, risk assessment and referral process nationally, to ensure public health, social and community services are trained to identify key safety risks early for people experiencing violence in their relationships, and able to refer them to the services that can help them achieve safety and recover.
  4. Agree to institute improved AVO standards to make clear what is expected of police, magistrates and courts to hold perpetrators accountable, and ensure women and children subjected to domestic and family violence are able to rely on these orders to achieve safety and justice.
  5. Ensure victims/survivors seeking help can access free translating and interpreting services, so that regardless of their disability, cultural or language background, or geographical location, any woman reaching out for help to build a safer future is able to access the assistance she needs. 

As with all initiatives for improved community safety and wellbeing, these urgent steps must be taken in a way that responds to the factors that shape people’s experiences of violence and encounters with institutions. These can include: the ongoing impacts of colonisation, race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity, ethnicity, nationality, religion, dis/ability and age, as well as the community attitudes, geographical isolation and the poor connectivity experienced by women in remote, rural and regional areas.

Further to these five immediate interventions, we note that the national alliance tasked with bringing together organisations to develop solutions, Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA), has presented comprehensive advice on the major long-term reforms needed including the Blueprint for Reform for women on temporary visas experiencing violence, and that Women’s Legal Services Australia has mapped out the steps required for Safety First in Family Law. These solutions will require meaningful and sustained investment. AWAVA, its members and allies stand ready to work with governments to design and implement these reforms together.

This national crisis cannot be solved overnight. But actioning these five changes will bring immediate and substantial improvement to the safety of many women and children currently at risk, and will save lives. We urge you to do your part.


  1. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance
  2. Embolden - Alliance for Women's Freedom, Equity and Respect (South Australian peak body for women’s domestic and family violence services)
  3. Women’s Legal Services Queensland
  4. Women’s Legal Services Tasmania
  5. Ruby Gaea Darwin Centre Against Sexual Violence
  6. Sexual Assault Support Service Tasmania 
  7. Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Women's Legal Service North Queensland Inc.
  8. Emma House Domestic Violence service 
  9. Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services WA 
  10. North Queensland Women's Legal Service
  11. Equality Rights Alliance
  12. WESNET - The Women’s Services Network 
  13. Annie North Inc
  14. Domestic Violence NSW
  15. Women’s Legal Service NSW
  16. economic Security4Women
  17. Limestone Coast Family Violence Action Group
  18. National Rural Women’s Coalition
  19. CASA Forum – Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault
  20. Ending Violence Against Women Queensland
  21. Seras Women’s Shelter Inc.
  22. Mackay Women’s Services
  23. Association of Women Educators
  24. National Council of Single Mothers & their Children
  25. YWCA Canberra
  26. Women’s Safety NSW
  27. Mitcham Family Violence Education and Support Service
  28. Centre for Non-Violence
  29. Eastern Region Domestic Violence Services Network Inc – Koolkuna
  30. Communicare Women’s Support Services
  31. Carnarvon Family Support Services 
  32. WRISC Family Violence Support Inc
  33. Women’s Centre Far North Queensland
  34. Migrant Women's Support Program of Women’s Safety Services SA
  35. Lucy Saw Centre Association Inc
  36. Penrith Women's Health Centre
  37. Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health
  38. Macleod Accommodation Support Service Inc.
  39. inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence
  40. North Shore Women's Benevolent Association Limited
  41. Mid Coast Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
  42. safe steps Family Violence Response Centre
  43. Darwin Aboriginal & Islander Women's Shelter
  44. Harmony Alliance - Migrant and Refugee Women for Change
  45. Accountability Matters Project
  46. DVConnect
  47. Domestic Violence Action Centre Toowoomba 
  48. Gold Coast Domestic Violence Prevention Centre
  49. Domestic Violence Crisis Service Canberra
  50. Immigrant Women’s Support Service
  51. Sonshine Sanctuary Association
  52. Beryl Women Inc.
  53. Edon Place and Centre for Women & Co
  54. Lou’s Place
  55. Cairns Regional Domestic Violence Service
  56. Women's Information, Support and Housing in the North
  57. Settlement Services International
  58. Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
  59. Northern Territory Council of Social Service
  60. Domestic Violence Victoria
  61. Project Respect
  62. Melaleuca Refugee Centre
  63. Dawn House Inc
  64. Western Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
  65. Bramwell House (Salvation Army)
  66. Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria 
  67. WASH House Inc.
  68. Immigrant Women's Speakout Association Inc.
  69. Immigration Advice and Rights Centre
  70. Australian Women's health Network
  71. Centre Against Sexual Assault Central Victoria
  72. Open Support
  73. Women's Legal Service (South Australia)
  74. Family Violence Prevention Legal Services National Forum
  75. Women’s Legal Services Australia
  76. No To Violence
  77. Take It Seriously
  78. YWCA Australia
  79. Refugee Advice & Casework Service (Aus) Inc.
  80. Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia
  81. Salvation Army National Family Violence Stream
  82. Economic Justice Australia
  83. Eastern Domestic Violence Service
  84. West Connect Domestic Violence Services


You can get involved in the campaign for full funding of the services women rely on to escape abuse at:

You can send a message to your representative in the Morrison Government about funding services here: