Australia

National women’s safety summit locked in as domestic violence services seek more funding

Australia will work toward a goal of eliminating violence against women and children when leaders meet for the National Women’s Safety Summit on 29 and 30 July.

The dates have been locked in at the same time as women’s safety groups seek more funding to deal with increased demand from women fleeing violence.

Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston said the summit is part of a consultation process that will inform the next national plan to “stop the rot that is domestic violence”.

“This plan needs to be a very ambitious plan, we need to make sure that we move from just reducing violence against women and their children, to ending violence against women and their children,” she said.

Federal, state and territory ministers responsible for women’s safety met on Wednesday to discuss the replacement of the nation’s first domestic violence national plan, which is due to expire in 2022.

An extra $150 million in federal funding was made available to respond to increased demand for services during the pandemic and paid directly to states and territories.

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has written to Senator Ruston informing her that Queensland has allocated all of its COVID-19 National Partnership funding and the sector urgently needs more support.

More than 15 organisations have called on the federal, state and territory governments to repeat the cash injection that addressed the spike in domestic violence during the pandemic.

“We cannot wait for the commencement of the next national plan to provide critical safety and support to those Australian women (cis and trans), children and families who need our help now,” the NSW Women’s Alliance says.

Senator Ruston said “the last information that I have is that not all of the money has been spent”.

“I’m very much looking forward to receiving the information from the states and territories about how much of that funding has been spent,” she said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg indicated the federal government is open to providing significantly more money to women’s safety groups.

“I can absolutely understand why demand has not gone away because one in four Australian women have experienced physical violence at the hands of an existing partner or a former partner,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC radio on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called for a broader women’s summit addressing issues such as gender inequity, sexual harassment in the workplace and the pay gap.

“If we are going to achieve equality in this country, women’s issues must be on the national agenda,” she said in a tweet.



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