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Issue #1661      October 22, 2014

Action to save women’s services

This year, the NSW government launched a new model for funding homelessness and crisis refuges. The new model has led to the closure and drastic restructure of scores of women’s services. At a time when domestic violence has been increasing in NSW, there will be less adequate places for women seeking refuge, plus chaos and uncertainty through the sector. Rather than telling the truth, the NSW government is attacking its critics by claiming they are misleading the public. Don’t believe NSW government lies.

Here are the facts

Myth: Funding for specialist homelessness services has been increased by $13 million; a 9.6 percent increase.

Fact: Funding for specialist homelessness services has not been increased. The government has taken money out of specialist services and granted funding to generalist services.

This means that rather than a service catering specifically to women, children, the Aboriginal community, migrant women, youth, the LGBTIQ community, and their particular needs, money has gone to generalist service providers that lack experience and specialist knowledge working with these groups.

Myth: More people will have access to homelessness services under these reforms.

Fact: Access is more than simply a numbers game. Access also involves services appropriate to need. Aside from the fact that outright closures of refuges are taking place (meaning less beds), transfer to Christian management and to a generalist model means that many people will recognise that these services can not meet their needs and simply won’t access them. Many women escaping domestic violence will simply not access a crisis service that houses men.

Evidence has shown that women and kids escaping domestic violence need a specialised service not a homelessness service. Early reports from workers in the sector suggest that fewer staff in services are being asked to carry a far heavier caseload. This does not sit well with a system purportedly set up to improve case management and suggests an emphasis on quantity over quality.

Myth: Every single one of the 1,300 government-owned properties will remain open.

Fact: Any service that goes from being independently run and specialist, to Christian run and/or generalist is a closure. While the government-owned properties will technically remain open, 75 percent are being handed over to consortiums led by the Salvation Army, Uniting Care, Mission Australia, St Vincent de Paul, and other Christian organisations.

All are under pressure to fit a generalist model. The same building being in use doesn’t equate to the same service. For example some will change from a 24/7 service to a more minimal staffing level; and 81 pre-existing community organisations have lost their funding or have changed. These organisations had strong links in their local communities which have been lost.

Action to save women’s services

October 31
Resistance Action: Save the Date!

On October 31 another wave of Independent women’s, youth and Aboriginal refuge closures is set to occur. Many other women’s services will no longer operate as feminist services. Many refuges are fighting to keep their doors open to women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Please get in touch if a refuge you are connected to is closing or being taken over, if you are organising actions against closures or wish to be involved in No Shelter’s actions.

Please email us if you have any more up-to-date information:

Next article – Taking Issue – Australia and the War on Terror

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