The NSW government has announced a $100 million investment for women’s safety in public places, at home and in the workplace as part of next week’s budget.
The multi-faceted package is the latest in a series of budget announcements that focus on social issues across the state.
It also follows calls from domestic violence service providers for more support in the upcoming state budget.
This is what has been promised.
Stop harassment in the street
To ensure the safety of women in public places after dark, the government will spend $30 million over two years on increasing street lighting and CCTV in public parks, as well as improving foot traffic.
The program will initially focus on Sydney’s Parramatta Park and The Rocks district before expanding across the city and into regional areas, with more locations to be announced in the coming months.
It will also include a campaign against street harassment to change community attitudes.
“We’re making sure we listen to women and girls and make cities safer,” said Natalie Ward, secretary of state for Women’s Security and Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention.
Treasurer Matt Kean said too many women were afraid of walking around Sydney at night.
“I’ve heard too many stories of women taking the long way home to avoid dark streets, or calling a friend while walking in case something goes wrong,” he said.
“As women walk home from work, they don’t have to worry about what lurks in the shadows.”
Making work safer
To combat sexual harassment at work, $4.8 million will be spent on a new task force managed by Safe Working NSW to ensure employers take initiatives to eliminate employee harassment.
The task force will focus in particular on training and mentoring in certain male-dominated sectors.
“Safe work will focus on those risky workplaces,” Fair Trade Minister Eleni Petinos said.
“We know that sexual harassment is a problem in our workplaces…one in four women reported sexual harassment in the past five years.”
The program will aim to hold more employers to account for failing to fulfill their responsibilities to protect female workers.
Ms Petinos said it would comply with the 2019 Respect at Work report by Kate Jenkins, the Australian Commissioner for Sexual Discrimination, which found that harassment at work was both widespread and widespread.
Supporting survivors of domestic violence
The government has also allocated $69 million for a project called Safer Pathways that will provide more integrated support systems for victims of domestic violence.
“We will continue to make our justice system fairer, less traumatic, faster and cheaper for all participants, especially for victims of D and sexual assault,” Attorney General Mark Speakman said.
The investment will provide more case management services to victim survivors and improve the database used by police to refer people to support services.
Audiovisual link facilities in approximately 50 NSW courts and tribunals will also be expanded to allow survivors of victims to give evidence at a distance, minimizing trauma.
Court-appointed agents will also be trained to cross-examine survivors, after laws passed last year prevent self-represented defendants from investigating domestic violence complainants.
“It is an absolute travesty that one in six people in our amazing country has experienced sexual harassment or violence by a current or former partner,” Perrottet said.
“We have made great strides over time, but it is still a scourge to our state and nation. As a government and as a people, we need to do better.”
Amanda Morgan, the sexual assault survivor and anti-violence advocate, who is the founder of Make a Seat Australia, said these changes were not only necessary but far too late.
“I feel this injection is so important… it’s going to change lives,” she said.
“Such integration means we have education, support and communication between different services.”
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