The NSW government has announced $484.3 million over four years to help thousands of women and children escaping domestic abuse with the support of housing and other specialist services.
A significant chunk of the funding — $426.6 million — will go towards operating 75 extra refuges to assist women and children under a model known as ‘core and cluster’ that will see families housed in self-contained accommodation that is located next to a ‘core’. The core facility will include counselling, legal assistance, education, and employment support.
Another $52.5 million over four years will be put into a Community Housing Innovation Fund (CHIF) partnership with the community housing sector. This initiative will provide 200 sustainable, social affordable housing dwellings for women escaping violent situations.
In a statement on Tuesday, NSW minister for women Bronnie Taylor said that domestic and family violence was one of the leading causes for homelessness among women.
“In 2019-20, almost 40% of the people who accessed specialist 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.”
Every year in NSW, police respond to more than 140,000 DFV incidents. Nationwide, an average of one woman is killed every nine days by a current or former partner.
The story of mother of two Theresa was shared by the state government as an example of how the ‘core and cluster’ accommodation service can offer women an opportunity to stay close to their support network in safety. Theresa escaped her family after being subjected to severe physical abuse, including strangulation, perpetrated by her partner.
“This support gave me the courage and trust that there was a way out of my situation with a plan that would keep me and my children safe,” Theresa said.
“I have officially escaped domestic violence for good, and can now see the warning signs to be able to stop it instead of putting up with it.
“I have achieved independence and I am now able to do things without being shut down with intimidation and abuse like I was before,” she said.
The NSW Government’s investment includes almost DOUBLING the number of women's #refuges in NSW, significantly expanding the Core & Cluster program to deliver + operate around 75 EXTRA women’s refuges that support women + children escaping #DomesticViolence. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/4SBb906LQF
— 💉💉Mark Speakman (@MarkSpeakman) October 19, 2021
Mark Speakman, NSW attorney general and minister for prevention of domestic and sexual violence, added that children were often ‘silent victims’ of domestic and family violence. He said the term has acted as a loud, rallying call for the government’s investment in more housing and more specialist supports for young people.
“In 2019-20, specialist homelessness services supported more than 8,200 children in families experiencing domestic violence,” Speakman said.
“Our trial will help us support 3,200 additional children and young people with trauma informed care and educational supports”.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the funding represented the single biggest investment the state had made to tackle domestic and family violence.
“[This] 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,” Perrottet said.
— Annabelle Daniel OAM (@WCS_CEO) October 20, 2021
Annabelle Daniel, the chair of Domestic Violence NSW welcomed the funding announcement and acknowledged all the frontline workers and victim-survivors who have been advocating for greater availability of these crucial services.
“Specialist domestic and family violence services are a lifeline for women and children fleeing abuse, and do the work of many agencies combined,” Daniel said.
“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.”
For confidential advice, support and referrals, contact: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), The NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63), NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017) or Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491). In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).