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Issue #1662      October 29, 2014

Time to fight for women’s services

I am very angry about the closure of 90% of independent Women’s refuges in NSW at a time when around 50% of the calls for help to the Domestic Violence line couldn’t find beds for women and children (see “Action to save women’s servicesGuardian #1661). As a worker in one of the Inner West refuges and now unemployed I used to love arriving to work at this beautiful old house in the suburbs and be greeted by mums and children in the front garden and to see them safer after some horrendous ordeals. I was able to give them lots of empathy and support.

Before the announcements of the tendering process I knew we were not going to continue to operate because this government’s agenda wants to cut services for DV victims, the poor and the disadvantaged. Business is what the government has in mind: everything run for profit, wars are profitable enterprises; they grab resources from other countries. The Women’s Refuge Movement was a collective of strong women in operation for over 20 years empowering women. The independent refuges used to organise state conferences where discussions and resolutions would take place and it was a very inclusive and secular organisation.

Many times last year during the destruction of the organisation I felt intimidated because we were not allowed to speak to the media or to conduct public demonstrations before the announcements otherwise our entitlements would not have been paid as most refuges work places have less than 15 workers and they could do as they wanted.

These new changes will bring more divisions and segregation. I asked some women with children escaping domestic violence if they would have gone to homeless service sharing with men and their issues of drug and alcohol and women told me they wanted to escape from all that at home. Places with other men will be the last place they will take their kids. Unfortunately the changes are a return to the past with charities taking over the needs of families for the charities’ own benefit. The destruction of services is taking us back to our grandmothers’ times. It’s time to fight for women’s rights and services.

Next article – Battles rage over inner city and Harbour developments

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