Give us shelter: why new DV funding isn’t anywhere near enough

27 Sep



The Turnbull government’s announcement last week of $100 million worth of funding to address domestic violence is better than than silence, and goes to some small way towards acknowledging the enormous problem this country has with male violence against women.

But what it does not do, and for this appalling omission the government should be unrelentingly and loudly pilloried, is fund the urgent immediate need for frontline services such as refuges and community legal centres, both of which are a woman’s first stop when she’s forced to flee a dangerous domestic situation.

What this says to me is that safe, secure, un-threatened people such as politicians have absolutely no idea what it is like to be in a situation of  such extreme danger that you have to flee, or risk injury or death to yourself and your children by staying.

And flee to where, exactly?

Not only do these fortunate politicians have no idea what this situation feels like, they apparently don’t care. Neither do have they the imagination to picture such a scene, and how they might feel in it.

Legal services are outraged at Minister for Women Michaelia Cash’s apparent spin on funding cuts that will directly affect women suffering domestic violence, and will see the centres in dire financial straits by 2017.

If politicians had the capacity to imagine themselves in such a situation, they would perhaps begin to understand that providing refuges for women and children must be the first priority in any plan to end family violence, in conjunction with some of the other options funding currently covers.

As I write this and as you read it, there will be women, alone or with their children, trying to get out of a house which is not a safe environment for them because it’s inhabited by a violent male intent on doing them harm. They need somewhere to go. Right now.

This ought not to be a difficult situation for a government to remedy. Providing funding for women’s refuges and legal centres is not going to break the budget. Yet, after decades of feminist activism we are going backwards: closing refuges, threatening the funding of community legal centres, handing over the refuges that remain to religious organisations who have little or no experience with the repercussions of domestic violence, and whose workers are primarily trained to deal with homelessness, not specifically with traumatised women and children fleeing abuse.

Solutions to domestic violence can’t be a one size fits all. Some women will be able to stay in their homes. Others will absolutely not. The period when a woman attempts to leave an abusive situation is well-recognised as the most dangerous for her, and for children involved. It is when she is most likely to be murdered, or severely injured, as the perpetrator’s rage escalates at the prospect of abandonment, and loss of control over his partner. Nothing will help in such situations if first-off, the woman has nowhere to go.

This is not complicated. Why will politicians not act to save women’s lives in the most pressing, the most obvious way, by adequately funding and staffing refuges and legal centres for the increasing numbers of women and children who have to get out, and have no place to which they can flee?

21 Responses to “Give us shelter: why new DV funding isn’t anywhere near enough”

  1. hudsongodfrey September 27, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    Just in checking the details of the announcement you posted a link to near the top gels with reports I’ve read elsewhere, if you subtract from the announced amount of $100 million all the items they did list to be left with a figure of just over 40% of it presumably earmarked for refuges. Presumably that is because elsewhere this was reported in more direct language as a 40 million boost for women’s refuges. The one measure that I think at least you and I would agree is paramount.

    Perhaps there’s an underlying truth about the way its spun that tells us conservatives simply hate women refuges above all, but once again I agree with you they’re practically all that does matter. Making them both prevalent and easy to assess makes the crucial difference between staying in any relationship being a choice and being effectively disempowered to make an abuser in nay way accountable for their behaviour.

    When I’m forced to read between the lines and hope there’s a chance refuges would receive the balance of this funding package then I’m appalled if for no other reason than because of the stupidity of anyone who fails to understand that most of the violence is all about control so that in their messaging and in the substance of what they do it simply must be the first thing to change

    Liked by 2 people

    • samjandwich September 30, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

      Yes Hudson, I think we need to be mindful of the fact that it’s Not Just Tony, and that as a result of the syco-fancies of the Howard years the Liberal party is stacked with individuals whose ultra-conservatism has not become apparent until recently.

      Malcolm Turnbull is going to have to walk a very fine line, at least until the election, and as someone who rather has form in employing the senior-private-sector-figure’s default technique of convincing people that he’s saying what they want to hear, it’s going to take him some time to declare what he’s about… and remember he didn’t succeed last time.

      My intuition tells me that MT’s heart is in the right place on this issue. However one idea I’ve been toying with recently is that doing something half-baked is almost always worse than doing nothing at all – and it seems to me this announcement could be an example of this. Providing properly-funded, competent women’s refuges (incorporating an analysis and advocacy capability to tackle the more tertiary issues) is a social justice imperative.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hudsongodfrey September 30, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

        If you mean to say Turnbull is keeping a little back until an election is called then you’d probably be right. But as a matter of history Gillard tiptoed over the line to win her election, but was still consigned to the same fate as Abbott. So reasons for saying it couldn’t happen again clearly don’t include political loyalties, though I’m sure most of us hope a popular leader wouldn’t be knifed for a second time or as PM just because he offended his party’s owners……

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson October 1, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

          My feeling is the LNP will be so terrified of changing leaders again, Turnbull could get away with just about anything before the next election.
          If he had the integrity, he could use that power for good…


          • hudsongodfrey October 1, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

            I think changing leaders holds less fear for the right of the Liberal party, wherein Abbott’s support base lay. They’re very good haters, and sadly for Malcolm some of the things they’re known to detest comprise most of the positions he’s most popular for. I based my comments on Gillard’s dumping, Turnbull’s previous ousting and what the pundits seem to think. I hadn’t weighed narrow self interest among the more moderate backbenchers and marginal seat holders, but you could be right. It might be an idea for Malcolm to just pass same sex marriage reform and let them take in the poll numbers, but even then the Machiavellian side of me says to wait until closer to the election.


      • Jennifer Wilson October 1, 2015 at 5:56 am #

        “Doing something half-baked is almost always worse than doing nothing at all” How true and I haven’t heard anyone say that for ages.


  2. TheKoneyReport September 27, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    The only way to truly have an impact is 2 educate the younger men and women, we need relationship education to teach younger men and women how to handle conflict and how to communicate with each other, yes we also need to provide safe houses for these woman who are in danger.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. townsvilleblog September 27, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    $100 million is a drop in the ocean as funding for domestic violence to think the issue will disappear in under a decade is fanciful. That said it must be done and the subject introduction into the curriculum in 2018 is the most positive step although boys will still come to school from homes where the man has no respect for the woman of the house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 28, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

      Yes, I fear the home culture is more influential than the school…


  4. russell September 27, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    Minus $300 million plus $100 million equals minus $200 million

    and oh what a grand man our pm is…

    churches in all the schools
    churches in all the refuges
    (surprised they are not advocating for religious instructors in all community legal centres)

    and oh what a grand man etc

    Rosie Batty is correct. It is a domestic form of terrorism.

    When viewed from the outside it might appear a ‘domestic squabble’.
    When viewed from the inside, absolute personal fear and terror is felt behind those walls.
    Trapped, in fear, I imagine, would be terrifying. Fight or flight would be paramount but trapped. That results in terror whether practiced deliberately or not. It’s also cumulative.

    Including for every witness present. Even to the pets. (plenty of pets have been killed)

    If it were foreign spies or infiltrators killing the people, martial law would have already been declared. But it’s only the wimmins hubbys doing it. And wimmins belong to their men anyway… to do with as they will… we can’t interfere in the sacrosanct blah blah

    Imagine if the numbers of women killed were actually recruits in the military or public servants or police or students at school. How long would it take before the relevant authorities made drastic and far reaching responses? If 100 police were being killed each year what would be the response? Or 100 teachers? Or 100 ‘home duties’ practitioners??

    I remember a time when police were said to ‘put the billy on’ when a dv call came in
    on the understanding it would be all over by the time they had a cuppa and got there.
    I trust that attitude is no more in our policing. I sincerely hope so. They wouldn’t get away with that these days anyway, would they?

    Hopefully with a new generation of coppers, more women in the service… it must improve.
    I do admire and don’t envy police in the massive dv workload they carry, every single day.
    Rain hail or shine work or holiday, every single day.

    Re fund the legal centres (all of them) and re fund women’s refuges (all of them)
    and without a church stooge doing the ‘triage’ or referral or having ‘ownership’.

    Then start educating young students about non violence and recognizing respect.
    Including for any young witnesses, in the pre and primary school age of their lives.

    That’s what we said 40 years ago and they didn’t do it! Now two deaths per week.
    I wonder what the next 40 years may hold. FOUR deaths per week? More? Now tell me from an epidemiological point of view that this is not a drastic community disease. Is it even listed as a community disorder?

    How much is premeditated murder for example? As against ‘didn’t mean it’ murder? Or is there just too much manslaughter around? Or is that really womanslaughter? Why is the murder of a woman called manslaughter? Perhaps an equivalent new law is needed for woman slaughter. Perhaps Senator Cash could put hers and the Brandis minds to that task.

    Every ‘war’ involves terrorism including in the ‘domestic’ wars.
    It is a result of eventually practiced and honed threats which are themselves forms of terrorism in the household.

    Asher_Wolf on Twitter started me up this morning describing her family experience.
    I greatly admire surviving women who are now able to tell about it. There is strength in solidarity. Respect to all.

    $Sixty Billion or was that 60 M? to subsidize the mining industry and $100,000 to assist victims of continued domestic terrorism. You know it makes sense, in a mans world!

    This government including the banshee feminist Senator just does not get it. I otherwise like the idea of ‘banshee’ feminists. Have you seen the clip of the tirade against the ‘labor sisterhood’ ‘handbag brigade’ delivered by Cash on the floor of the Senate? ‘Tis an eye opener, an indicator (at least to me) of the capacities now being called upon of her. She just doesn’t have a clue. As posed in the article do any of the pollies, really?

    Women and men are going to have to demonstrate loudly and continuously for the message to be even more seriously considered. Otherwise nothing will change now or then. Band aids will continue to be applied as deemed necessary. Just like preventative health, mental health, always always the poor cousins in the health budget pie. Catch 22.

    Men are and will more so be made accountable for their actions whether they like it or not. As has long been said. Enough is Enough. It is already too much and must stop now.

    Thank you Jennifer Wilson for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson September 28, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

      Thank you Russell, for your heartfelt response.


    • James Fitzgerald September 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

      And the one message that is absent from almost every public statement: Men stop using violence, stop using abuse, stop controlling! Why are so few saying this?
      Great words Jennifer and Russell

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson September 29, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

        Thank you James.
        You are spot on.


        • zerograv1 September 29, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

          Although the addressing of this long overlooked problem has been manipulated for political gain (Warm fuzzies for Turnbull v Abbott) I think it is still susceptible to an immediate dropping from the budget at the first sign of recession. Look at the relativities of the expenditure side of federal outlays and you will observe how insignificant this effort is.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson October 1, 2015 at 5:53 am #

            Yes, I fear you are right , although there would be a powerful backlash against any government that attempted to do that. I hope…



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