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Latest release: Domestic violence advocates call for action on pandemic recommendations at Women's Safety Council meeting

Joint release Fair Agenda & Women's Safety NSW | Thursday 6th August

Advocates are calling on the Women’s Safety Council to use today’s meeting to lock in the four actions experts have been calling for since the start of the pandemic.

Today's meeting between Women’s Safety Ministers is one of the few moments dedicated to the cross-government decision making needed to address the family violence crisis, particularly in the COVID context.

“We’ve seen during this pandemic that when someone trying to escape an abuser can access specialist service support – it can be life saving.” said Hayley Foster, CEO of Women’s Safety NSW.

“When a woman can access the safety support, case management, and safe at home or refuge support she needs in moments of crisis – it can change her life. And when specialist intervention is funded - it can prevent the kind of murders that have been devastating our communities. But current government funding decisions mean, in so many cases, that’s still not happening.” Ms Foster added.

“At the start of this pandemic family violence experts briefed the Morrison Government on the four areas of action needed for women’s safety during this time of increased risk. But the actions they’ve taken so far haven’t even been close to what’s needed. As a result, there are still massive holes in the safety net women should be able to rely on in times of crisis.” added Renee Carr, Executive Director of campaigning group Fair Agenda. 

“Right now, government decisions mean that many of the specialist services women rely on in moments of incredible danger have waiting lists of months. And many victim-survivors trying to access physical refuge or legal assistance can’t get the support they need in key moments.” said Ms Carr.

“The Morrison Government’s decision to not properly resource family violence services means that many women and kids are being left on their own in moments of absolute crisis.” she added. 

Early in the pandemic experts warned that  COVID-19 would exacerbate safety risks.

“We know that this pandemic is being leveraged by perpetrators to escalate their abuse and control; and that it’s also removing the avenues many victim-survivors rely on to manage their safety, and to build safer futures for themselves and their children.” Ms Foster said.

She added: “During this pandemic government inaction in this area is putting women at significant risk. And we’re seeing that impact particularly on women who have recently joined our communities. In a NSW wide survey of the frontline domestic and family violence specialists that support women after police have been called to a domestic violence incident, 78% of services reported that, for women on temporary visas, lack of access to appropriate crisis accommodation was a barrier to their safety; and 96% identified lack of access to income as a safety risk. 

At the start of the pandemic, expert body Australian Women Against Violence Australia, backed by Fair Agenda, outlined governments needed to take urgent action in four areas: 

  • Properly fund the specialist services that support victim-survivor safety, and intervene with perpetrators, 

  • Ensure every woman subject to violence is able to access the income, material and health support she needs to be safe and escape her abuser, 

  • Ensure the legal system prioritises safety - including improving AVO standards and putting safety first in family law, and

  • Maintain access to contraception and abortion care so that those facing sexual violence and reproductive coercion can access the support they need. 

 

Recent Press releases

Previous press releases available here.

 

Recent coverage

Women's Safety Ministers meet today: this is what strong action would actually look like, 6 August

We can't let women's safety slip off the budget agenda, 31 July

The impact of COVID-19 on women's safety is only just beginning, 11 May

GP phone calls, mental health help expands, Nine News, 29 March

The Hidden Crisis of COVID-19 , Pro Bono News, 24 March 

As 63 Women Are Turned Away From Services Each Day, Family Violence Workers Are Testifying At An "Unnecessary" Inquiry, BuzzFeed News, 13 March

The government’s inaction on domestic violence slammed as ‘appalling’ & ‘irresponsible’, Women’s Agenda

Law change could have saved Hannah Clarke and her three kids’ lives News.com.au, 10 March 

Australian urged to take action amid rising violence against women, Al Jazeera, 6 March

Women's safety could be improved 'within weeks', campaigners say  The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 March

These are 5 actions Women’s Safety Ministers must urgently address  Women’s Agenda, 4 March

Family violence experts slam poor funding News.com.au, 22 February 2020

Reproductive healthcare facing ‘biggest threat in decade’ with Religious Discrimination Bill, Women’s Agenda, January 2020