Hundreds of new safe spaces for DV victims, but not here yet and not enough

Women escaping domestic violence will soon have access to hundreds of new safe spaces, but a senator warns it’s cold comfort for those who need support now.

Jul 09, 2024, updated Jul 10, 2024
Domestic violence services say they are seeing signs victims are struggling to get help, with at least 700 new spaces on the way. Photo: Array

Domestic violence services say they are seeing signs victims are struggling to get help, with at least 700 new spaces on the way. Photo: Array

The federal government will fund new projects to provide 720 safe places over the next three years, almost doubling the number of emergency accommodation places already offered under their program.

With statistics showing one in five Australians have experienced partner violence or abuse since the age of 15, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said secure emergency accommodation was vital for women and children escaping abuse.

“Family and domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness and housing uncertainty for women and children across Australia and we know there is an increased demand for emergency accommodation,” she said.

The new projects will focus on improving access and inclusion for First Nations women and children, people living with a disability and others facing barriers to support.

This comes as the nation reels from a spate of high-profile domestic violence deaths.

A 28-year-old man is expected to be charged after allegedly frustrating attempts to rescue his children from a burning Western Sydney home on Sunday night, resulting in the deaths of a six-year-old, a three-year-old and a 10-month-old.

On Tuesday, a 21-year-old was charged over the fatal stabbing of a young women in an alleged domestic violence-related murder in Sydney’s west.

In April, 29-year-old Daniel Billings allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend Molly Ticehurst while out on bail.

Between 2022 and 2023, the Australian Institute of Criminology recorded a 28 per cent rise in the number of women killed by an intimate partner compared to the year before.

The federal government’s funding for safe spaces is part of a national plan aimed at ending violence against women and children over the next decade.

While the commitment is welcome, Greens senator Larissa Waters says it is “a drop in a large ocean of need”.

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“(It) will accommodate at most a mere three per cent of women and children seeking housing,” she said.

“Waiting three years until 2027 for these facilities to be built is cold comfort to women and children being killed by family and domestic violence now.”

The Commonwealth has also offered $5000 in financial support for women escaping violent relationships, as part of a package worth almost $1 billion in its 2024 federal budget.

Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie says frontline services still need more funding.

“We needed this a year ago,” she told Nine’s Today show on Tuesday.

“The government said we would have 500 frontline workers in place last June, and here we are, we haven’t even got a quarter of them across the country.”

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