Domestic violence support services are set to create more crisis shelters to protect women fleeing abusive relationships and enhance frontline support across the state, under an $8.6 million government funding boost.
The NSW and Federal Governments yesterday announced the funding would be available to recipients of the COVID-19 Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence Infrastructure Grant Program.
The cash will fund over 50 projects among 45 domestic violence services across metropolitan and rural NSW, including upgrades to accommodation facilities, enhanced security, and additional emergency shelters.
Lynda Townsend, service manager of Tamworth Family Support Services – a recipient of the government grant – said the funding will allow them to purchase an additional crisis accommodation centre for families fleeing violent circumstances.
Photo Credit: Lynda Townsend – Tamworth Family Support Services
“Since COVID began, our women’s and children’s refuge has constantly been at capacity,” Ms Townsend told Central News.
“So just having the opportunity to offer another crisis accommodation and still provide the level of support that our women require is phenomenal.”
Macarthur Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (MWDVCAS) is another of the grant’s recipients, receiving $44,000 to install an audio-visual link room in their Newtown office.
They’ll be able to come to a safe space they’re familiar with, they’ll be with people they already know, and no one will know where they are
Tanya Whitehouse, Coordinator of MWDVCAS, said the addition of these facilities is a further step in making victims feel safe.
“It will allow women to give evidence from our office instead of a court,” Ms Whitehouse said.
“They’ll be able to come to a safe space they’re familiar with, they’ll be with people they already know, and no one will know where they are.
“It’ll be a great option that can make them feel maybe slightly less stressed in giving their evidence, knowing they have support and they’re able to get there and leave safely.”
Tanya Smyth, Director of Women NSW, Ageing & Carers said that whilst previous rounds of funding have focused on increasing staff levels, this package is the first that has been used to provide physical upgrades to domestic violence support services.
“We’ve seen some organisations use it for renovations to their facilities, whilst others have used it for improving disability access,” Ms Smyth said.
“Others have been focused on children and upgrading play equipment… It’s really valuable stuff and so far been very well received.”
[It will] offer more women a safe space and life-saving assistance when fleeing domestic violence
Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman said the package would support the frontline workers who had been facing even greater challenges since the pandemic to deliver enhanced care.
“This funding will… most importantly offer more women a safe space and life-saving assistance when fleeing domestic violence,” he said.
This grant follows the $90 million allocation to domestic violence services announced in the NSW State Budget earlier this month, $60 million of which was allocated specifically to frontline services to improve their support to victim-survivors over the next two years.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by domestic violence, the following support services are available: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63), and NSW Victims Services (1800 633 063).
Main picture by Laura Smith/Flickr