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Funding for women's refuges


First, I congratulate the member for Blue Mountains for her extensive work in the area of domestic violence. From her first speech in this place she has worked diligently and effectively in raising awareness and calling for more action from the Baird-Grant Government on this issue. She has worked on it as a community advocate, a member of Parliament and also in her capacity as the Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Friends for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. The member for Blue Mountains has a constructive and inclusive manner. She wants to work with women on this issue, which is evident by the number of speakers who are seeking to join her calls for more refuges. Let us contrast her with the Minister who last week heckled the member for Blue Mountains in this Chamber throughout the debate. The Minister refused to participate in the second debate and provides a small target on this issue because she knows the Government has got its priorities wrong.

I say in this Chamber and have said outside that the Government's approach from a legislative and policing perspective has had some good results. However, we have a long way to go when it comes to services for victims. If the Government truly wanted a bipartisan approach it would support this motion, but of course it will not. The Government cannot admit its mistakes and it will not even support an amendment. In its much-touted It Stops Here reforms in September 2014, the Government promised a domestic and family violence framework. It called for us to stand together to end domestic and family violence in New South Wales. It noted staggering statistics such as 125,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported each year; 300,000 further incidents go unreported; three-quarters of female homicides are domestic; one-third of people seeking assistance from homelessness services in New South Wales identify domestic and family violence as an issue; Aboriginal women are six times more likely to be victims of domestic and family violence than non-Aboriginal women; and the cost of domestic and family violence to the New South Wales economy is more than $4.5 billion annually.

Eighteen months after promising bipartisan reforms that would stop domestic violence, the Government has failed time and again to protect women. Since the latest budget was announced we still have no coordinated or comprehensive timeframe for the rollout of safety action meetings and Safer Pathway across the State. Rather, we have bitsy media opportunities that are done in a partisan and random manner. For instance, none of the local members were invited to the most recent announcement in the Newcastle and Port Stephens electorates. I asked the Minister's office twice for a copy of the media release so I could comment on the great announcements the Government was making. Even though I am generally supportive of any new Government initiative, it is important to know what it is announcing. The request was refused on three separate occasions, which is not evidence of bipartisanship. It is yet another example of the Government treating the Opposition and the community as accessories after the fact.

The Government is still not funding refuges adequately and women and children are being turned away from centres every day. Importantly, it is not putting the victims at the centre of its policies, as it promised to do. A central plank of the It Stops Here Safer Pathway reform was the referral of a victim identified as facing a threat or serious threat of violence to a statewide central referral point. This was to be done through the Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, but it has not been funded. We need beds for women in refuges in New South Wales and this Government is failing to provide them. I urge all members in this place to act in a bipartisan manner and support the motion of the member for Blue Mountains.

#motion #womensrefuges #funding #JennyAitchison #domesticviolence #TrishDoyle

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Authorised by Jay Suvaal, Country Labor Party, 9/377 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000

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