Monday, December 14, 2009

SVAW Morning Tea

As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, a small crowd of supporters gathered in Belmore Park, Sydney on Wednesday 9 December for a morning tea of speeches, Danish pastry and entertainment. The morning tea was held to celebrate the achievements made in reducing violence against women in Australia and to raise public awareness on the work that needs to be done to make violence against women history.

The guest speaker, Cat Gander, from the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement, drew attention to two major problems in the provision of services for women escaping from domestic violence. One, there is a shortage of refuge placements – 1 in 2 women are turned away from refuges in cases of domestic violence. Two, the Family Law Court needs to be reformed to reduce the prohibitive legal costs to victims of domestic violence. Legal costs were as high as one million dollars in one exceptional case, but more commonly costs ran to the tens of thousands of dollars. In one case a women went back to court 25 times.

Amnesty International NSW’ speaker, Lauren Fahy, from the
Stop Violence against Women Network, labelled the current approach to handling violence against women inadequate, because the services for women escaping domestic violence were grossly underfunded and ad hoc in nature. Lauren explained that there was a lack of organisation between government departments involved and called on the government to commit to a more coordinated approach, namely the National Plan of Action to reduce violence against women and children. Thanks to everyone involved – organisers, speakers and supporters alike, not to mention, Shannon King, who entertained the crowd with her solo singing/guitar playing.

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