NSW Labor Leader, Michael Daley, has today announced that Labor will provide an extra 200 specialist domestic violence housing places for women and children, as part of an additional $158 million package, if elected in March.

In 2014, the Liberals and Nationals cut $20 million from specialist domestic violence shelters, leaving parts of NSW with the highest domestic violence rates without refuges.

Today, Labor is announcing it will right this wrong and restore the funding as part of an additional $158 million package of measures to address domestic, family and sexual violence in NSW.

“Cutting funding from women’s refuges in 2014 was one of the Liberals’ most callous acts.

“Labor is making the prevention of domestic violence a key commitment and I will bring responsibility for this issue into the heart of government, within the Premier’s Department,” Mr Daley said.

Labor will provide an additional 200 specialist beds in priority areas, including in: Penrith, Goulburn, North Coast, Taree, Kempsey, Bega and on the South Coast.

As part of its plan Labor will also:

- Provide additional funding for 29 specialist case workers in Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services;

- Provide additional funding for 19 specialist case workers in Women’s Health Centres;

- Invest an additional $1.7 million per year in the NSW Rape Crises Centre for sexual assault and trauma counselling;

- Make the Premier’s Department responsible for domestic, family and sexual violence in NSW;

- Deliver an annual domestic, family and sexual violence budget and accountability statement;

- Have the Premier deliver an annual statement on the Government’s progress during 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Violence Against Women;

- Establish an expert committee to review responses to domestic, family and sexual violence across NSW, in its first term;

- Establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Advisory Group;

- Deliver age-appropriate school-based strategies and develop Respectful Relationships Education; and

- Review existing perpetrator behavior change interventions.

Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Jenny Aitchison, said: “Labor is committed to keeping everyone in our community safe from domestic, family and sexual violence. Labor will develop new prevention approaches as well as supporting victim-survivors to access health, housing and justice services and rebuild their lives.”

Labor candidate for Penrith, Karen McKeown, said: “Specialist services are continuously reporting that they are unable to provide immediate and ongoing support to all women and children who seek assistance, due to the lack of funding to meet demand.”

This announcement builds on Labor’s previous commitments, which include to:

- Trial a specialist sexual assault and domestic violence court in Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra;

- Increase funding for victim’s compensation recognition payments and review the NSW victim compensation scheme;

- Investing $538 million to recruit 1,500 additional police trained in issues impacting on women who are experiencing violence;

- Legislating to extend the provision of 10 days paid domestic violence leave for private sector workers; and

- Joining Our Watch and implement Change the Story (two frameworks for prevention of domestic violence which are supported in every other state and territory).