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31 July 2014

Going Home Staying Home An Ideological Reform Based on Misogyny.


The NSW Governments reform of Specialist Homeless Services (SHS), Going Home Staying Home, will
see 80 homelessness services with expertise in domestic violence, mental illness, drug and
alcohol dependence, youth, Aboriginal people and immigrants. The most devastating is the
closure of specifically dedicated womens refuges which will see hundreds of women and
children, survivors of family violence, on the streets, into shelters which are not specialised
in handling family violence related issues or forced to return home to abusive partners.
As a young woman I am outraged by the audacity of this NSW Government in introducing a
reform which will allow hundreds if not thousands of women and children across NSW to be
placed at greater risk of harm. It is a well known fact that on average, in Australia, one
woman dies every week due to intimate domestic violence and yet, the SHS reform will see
them counselled into returning to their homes?
When did our society decide it was appropriate to turn back the clock on womens rights
and assume that women must remain in abusive relationships because that is what is
expected of them? This reform and acceptance of funding cuts to womens refuges just adds
further insult to injury and is clearly an ideological reform which stems from deeper roots in
our community, roots which hold basis in misogyny.
I refer to an incident reported on the 2 January in the Daily Telegraph regarding a women
raped on New Years Eve, where Acting Inspector Dan Richardson of the Wollongong
Police said the assault was an unfortunate reminder for people to avoid walking alone. In
describing the king hit incident (which occurred the same night), Police Prosecutor Sergeant
Lisa McEvoy called the event horrific, noting that it was completely unprovoked. I fail to
understand how another sexual attack on a woman can be an unfortunate reminder and an
alcohol fuelled attack is horrific and unprovoked? Why it that a king hit incident requires
stricter punishment and produces much more uproar in a community than rape or sexual
assault?
This example demonstrates the ongoing issue in our society, the issue that rape and family
violence has become so normalised in the media and by officials and governments that our
society is not concerned enough to continue pushing for womens rights. So normalised,
that a Government, whose role is to protect the most vulnerable, believes it is conscionable
to strip funding from womens refuges, or expect them to Go Home and Stay Home.
The reform should of great concern to everyone in our community, not just women. The
reforms make devastating cuts to youth services, Indigenous services and mental health
services. The reforms remove the role of Government in protecting the vulnerable to the
private sector, with no appropriate checks and balances to ensure the services being
provided are appropriate. Most will need to now rely on services from Mission Australia, St
Vincent De Pauls and Salvation Army etc for assistance, community organisations who are
already overwhelmed with the work they are already doing in our community.
I have grave concerns for the women and children who will have no where to go, who will
not be able to find the support they will need and are likely to make the heartbreaking
decision to return to the abusive home they fled from in the first place. I am imploring NSW
residents to stand up against these ideological reforms and protect the vulnerable from a
decision which will cost lives.
Antania Monkley