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An election statement from Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand

 

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand is urging all candidates and political parties running in the 2023 NSW election to commit to rigorous, life-changing family and sexual violence measures that address the economic security and structural service gaps faced by women and children.

As the cost of living continues to rise, households are experiencing significant financial stress. Good Shepherd, as a national provider of family violence and financial services, is keenly aware of the risks that women face when they cannot access timely support and lack adequate financial assistance to achieve security and recover from violence.

Women and young people are often compelled to remain in abusive relationships due to a lack of money and secure housing. At least one in four women who want to leave their violent partners cannot do so as they lack the necessary financial resources and support.

We know it is possible to implement better solutions and practices to effectively respond to family and sexual violence in NSW, especially for children and young people. This includes better information sharing between key agencies such as child protection, specialist domestic family and sexual violence services and the NSW police. Brokerage funding for women and their children and young people should immediately be boosted to help them escape violence and re-establish a home without incurring significant costs or going into debt, and with consistent support from a case manager. Easily identifiable service centres that recognise the rights and needs of children and young people experiencing violence should be established as well as a suite of psychological services for perpetrators to aid in the prevention of future violent behaviour.

Good Shepherd calls on the NSW government to address the growing economic disparities that are being exacerbated by the rising cost of living and housing insecurity, by ensuring women and families receive additional assistance to develop financial stability and resilience in the years ahead.

Create housing security for women, children and young people experiencing family violence

Housing is fundamental to preventing and disrupting family violence. In NSW, its estimated that at least 4,812 women are currently forced into the impossible dilemma of choosing to stay in an unsafe and violent home, or face homelessness.

A lack of affordable, stable housing is one of the biggest barriers faced by Good Shepherd practitioners working with victim-survivors. The demand for crisis and transitional accommodation, high and unaffordable rental costs, social housing wait lists, and inadequate social security payments all contribute to women, young people, and families having nowhere to go.

Support implementation of the Core and Cluster Model 

Good Shepherd welcomes the NSW Government’s commitment to the NSW Core and Cluster Refuge Model, which is a successful model of crisis accommodation for women and children escaping domestic and family violence that clusters self-contained units around a core of specialised support services.

The delivery of the NSW Core and Cluster Program will support up to an additional 2,900 women and children escaping domestic and family violence each year. Good Shepherd calls on the NSW Government to fund local Core and Cluster Program implementation and sector development roles that support local linkages across specialist DFV and other relevant services, and advise on best practice implementation to ensure consistent, safe service delivery across NSW. It is critical that funding for crisis accommodation acknowledges the reality that many women and families will need to stay for a number of months before securing longer-term housing.

Prevent women’s homelessness

Women aged 55 and over is the fastest growing group experiencing homelessness and rental stress, driven by gender-based differences in pay, workforce participation, and superannuation accumulation, and a severe shortage of affordable rental and social housing.

Good Shepherd calls on the NSW Government to co-invest in a women’s housing design strategy that would deliver an innovative housing model uniquely suited to the needs and financial situations of mid-life and older women, including those recovering from family violence. Providing suitable housing for women experiencing family violence and homelessness should be made a priority by all candidates in the upcoming NSW election.

Build strong prevention and service systems

The release of the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children was a vital step to addressing and ultimately preventing violence against women and children. We particularly commend its focus on addressing financial abuse and housing instability and in ending violence against women.

The current NSW Government’s announcement of two new five-year plans to eliminate sexual, domestic and family violence was also a significant milestone in ensuring the safety of women, children and families in NSW.

The future NSW Government should focus on aligning the State government’s current five-year plans with the national agenda to ensure women and children are safe, well, strong and connected not only in NSW but within Australia. Priorities include:

  • Promoting gender equality and combatting other forms of discrimination that contribute to this violence.
  • Changing community attitudes to prevent violence against women, children and young people.
  • Embedding effective early intervention measures, including for children and young people.
  • Invest in DFSV workforce development to train and build capacity across the existing workforce and attract and retain skilled workers, to ensure services are able to meet demand safely across NSW.
  • Ensuring there is tailored and culturally safe support for all women, children and young people.
  • DFSV sector investment to develop and implement minimum standards for specialist service delivery and improve coordination and integration across systems.
  • A dedicated First Nations women’s plan, led by First Nations women, communities, and services, grounded in principles of self-determination and community control.
  • Recognising children and young people as victim-survivors in their own right and establishing services and supports that are tailored to their rights and needs.
  • Ensure data integration and information sharing to enable better monitoring of the success of the strategy and the improved safety of women, children, and young people.

Good Shepherd looks forward to working with the future NSW Government to help implement our recommendations and ensure NSW remains focused on ending violence against women, children, and young people.

Media contact:

Manager, Media and Communications

0407 091 383

media@goodshep.org.au