The ACT will receive $1 million to fund extra crisis accommodation for women fleeing domestic violence under a new housing program to be established if Labor wins the May federal election.
Labor says it will establish a Housing Australia Future Fund to build 30,000 social and affordable homes across the country, including 4,000 homes for women and children fleeing violence and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness.
There will also be an additional $100 million for crisis accommodation.
Labor expects as many as 90 women in the ACT will find refuge through the program.
It also says 400 women in the ACT would receive help and support by funding five social workers as part of a national initiative that would fund 500 such workers to assist women facing violence.
The announcement came from all ACT Labor parliamentarians – Alicia Payne (Canberra), Andrew Leigh (Fenner), David Smith (Bean) and Senator Katy Gallagher – and Shadow Assistant Minister for Communities and the Prevention of Family Violence Senator Jenny McAllister.
They said Labor will tackle the scourge of domestic violence with ambition and urgency.
“Survivors of violence are strong, and they deserve our help to rebuild their lives,” they said.
“Over the past nine years, Coalition governments have failed to take this task seriously.”
Member for Canberra Alicia Payne said that one-in-six women had experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, and one woman was killed every week on average.
“It’s a national tragedy and it’s time it was treated as a national priority,” she said.
“It’s not good enough that women in Canberra fleeing violence are turned away every day because of insufficient federal funding for accommodation and crisis support services.
“This funding for more accommodation and support workers will help women leave violent and abusive relationships. It will save lives and change the future for so many families. It’s past time to stop just talking about it.”
The Labor members said nearly 10,000 women and children seek safety across the country each year but are turned away because beds aren’t available.
“For many women and children, this means homelessness – couch surfing, sleeping in the car, on the street or returning to the perpetrator,” they said.
“We also know that an extra pair of hands can make an enormous difference. The services we talk to say that an extra person working on staff can help between 80 and 100 additional women and children each year.”