City News

Triumph for women’s services

A petition with 14,000 signatures was presented to NSW Parliament. Photo: SOS Women's Services/Facebook

NSW Parliament will debate the closure of women’s homelessness services under the NSW Government’s Going Home Staying Home reforms.

A number of activist groups and local and state politicians have lobbied the state government since it announced the reforms.

On the 11th of August, NSW Labor received a petition with over 14,000 signatures of those opposed to the reforms.

Parliamentary policy requires that when a petition with over 10,000 signatures is presented to NSW Parliament, it must become the subject of a parliamentary debate.

The Liberal Government’s Going Home Staying Home reforms have restructured funding to specialist homelessness services.

Women’s services have seen their funding redirected into generalist services for both men and women under these reforms.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said the debate will force the Liberals to explain their cuts to specialist women’s services.

“Over 14,000 people have signed petitions to allow us to debate these cruel cuts to specialist homelessness services in the parliament.”

“I share in the community’s disgust with this Government’s decision to abandon specialist homelessness services given many of these provide support for women and children escaping violence in the home.”

Mr Robertson also said the Liberals will also have to explain details of the flawed tender process that led to these cuts when the issue is debated.

A spokesperson from the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) said constructive debate about the Going Home Staying Home reforms was welcome.

“These are long overdue changes to the way services are provided to the most vulnerable in our communities, homeless people or those at risk of homelessness. However, there are myths that are being perpetuated about the Going Home Staying Home reforms.”

The FACS spokesperson said there are no funding cuts and no women’s refuges owned by the NSW Government will close as a result of the reforms.

“Under the GHSH reforms, the NSW Government has increased funding for specialist homeless services across the state by 9.6 per cent in 2014-15. The NSW Government will invest more than $515 million over the next three years to prevent and reduce homelessness in NSW.”

“Services to women across the state will increase by more than three per cent and to family members (the majority of whom are women and their children) by more than 13 per cent as a result of the reforms.”

Deputy Opposition Leader Linda Burney said: “Let’s be clear: some of these specialist services have remained open in name only, but offer very different support services, all as a result of this government’s flawed tender process.”

“Many women will be cut off from vital escape routes, forced into a generalist system that is already bursting at the seams.”

Shadow Minister for Women Sophie Cotsis said: “We know that staff and women seeking refuge have been living week to week under this confusing new tender process – with stop-gap funding measures that have failed to offer any certainty.”

“It’s time for the Liberals to come clean about this botched process and debate the issue in Parliament.”


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