She has welcomed an almost $500 million spend announced by the New South Wales government to support other women and children escaping domestic abuse, saying “it will change people’s lives”.
“Five or six years ago, I was an emotional mess. I had nowehere safe that I felt comfortable to live and function in,” she said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“You lose your independence. Emotionally and mentally, you become a battered human being.”
Ms Boyd is now studying law and says affordable housing and support networks allowed her to find stability.
The new $484.3 million package for housing and specialist services is NSW’s single largest investment in tackling domestic and family violence.
“There is no person, no woman, no children, who should suffer domestic violence and live in those environments,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters on Tuesday.
“And from a state perspective, we want to do everything we can to ensure that support is provided for survivors of domestic violence right across our state.”
The funding is expected to over four years deliver and operate an extra 75 refuges. The self-contained accommodation will be located next to wraparound support services including counselling, legal assistance, education and employment support.
It will also contain meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment for court appearances, communal kitchens and playgrounds.
Treasurer Matt Kean said the investment will almost double the number of women’s refuges available across the state.
“What it will mean is that for victim-survivors escaping an abusive relationship, there is a safe place to go with the support available,” he said. “This will change lives, this will save lives, and there is no more legacy that a government can leave.”
Just over $52 million will go towards providing around 200 sustainable, social and affordable housing dwellings for victim-survivors.
About $5.2 million will be invested in a trial in two districts to provide dedicated supports for accompanied children and young people experiencing or at risk of homelessless due to domestic and family violence.
The announcement today is the result of years of hard work by frontline services in supporting women & children escaping domestic & family violence & knowing the difference safe, independent accommodation can make – congratulations to all the DFV & homelessness services @DV_NSW
Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said domestic and family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children, showing the high demand for these critical services.
“In 2019-20, almost 40 per cent of the people who accessed specialist homelessness services in NSW, across our cities, regional and rural communities, had experienced domestic abuse,” she said.
“One of the most important things we can do in government is to ensure that when a victim-survivor makes the courageous decision to leave a violent home – a time when she actually faces the greatest risk – that there’s a secure, supportive environment waiting to help her.”
Chair of Domestic Violence NSW Annabelle Daniel also welcomed the announcement, saying investment in specialist services and additional housing are both critical in supporting women and children leaving domestic and family violence.
“Well-funded women’s refuges and shelters do the work of many agencies, supporting women and children to access sustainable housing, medical and legal supports, police and justice assistance as well as providing employment, education and training opportunities,” she said.
Ms Daniel said the investment will help the sector to accommodate increased demand for services due to COVID-19 lockdowns, particularly in regional and rural NSW.
“Currently, approximately one in two women who seek specialist assistance are turned away due to a lack of space. Our experience tells us that coming out of last year’s lockdown, we know that specialist services will be in high demand in the weeks and months ahead,” she said.
The government says NSW Police respond to more than 140,000 domestic and family violence incidents each year. On average, one woman is killed every nine days in Australia by a current or former partner.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said it was both a sad and happy day for the state.
“Yet again, we have to reflect on how endemic domestic violence is in our society. Every day, women and children, and men in some cases, are suffering domestic and family violence,” he said. “They are terrible statistics. But today is a beacon of hope. This is not just about the bricks and mortar of building social housing, or building refuges, but the wraparound services that will be provided with that.”
Meanwhile, women and children leaving a violent relationship now have access to a one-off federal payment of up to $5,000 under a new trial scheme.
The Escaping Violence Payment was announced in the May budget as part of a $1.1 billion women’s safety package of programs.
The support, which became available on Tuesday, will include up to $1,500 in cash, with the remainder of the money available for goods and services or direct payments of bonds, school fees, or other essential items to help establish a safe home.
If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.