The NSW government has announced a $100 million investment to 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.
Here’s what’s been promised.
Stopping street harassment
To ensure women’s safety in public spaces after dark, the government will spend $30 million over two years to provide more street lighting and CCTV in public parks, as well as foot traffic upgrades.
The program will initially focus on Parramatta park and The Rocks precinct in Sydney before expanding across the city and into regional areas, with more locations to be announced in coming months.
It will also include an anti-street harassment campaign to shift community attitudes.
“We are making sure we are listening to women and girls and providing safer cities,” Minister for Women’s Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward said.
Treasurer Matt Kean said too many women were scared walking around Sydney at night.
“I have 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.
“When women are walking home from work they shouldn’t have to fear what’s lurking in the shadows.”
Making work safer
To counter sexual harassment at work, $4.8 million will be spent on a new taskforce administered by Safe Work NSW to make sure employers are taking initiatives to eradicate harassment of employees.
The taskforce will have a particular focus on training and guidance in certain industries that are male-dominated.
“Safe work will be focusing on those high-risk workplaces,” Minister for Fair Trading Eleni Petinos said.
“We know sexual harassment is a problem in our workplaces … one-in-four women reported sexual harassment in the last five years.”
The program will aim to hold more employers accountable if they don’t comply with their responsibilities to keep female employees safe.
Ms Petinos said it would deliver on the 2019 Respect at Work Report by Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, which found harassment at work was both prevalent and pervasive.
Supporting domestic violence survivors
The government has also allocated $69 million for a project called Safer Pathways that will provide more integrated support systems for domestic violence victim-survivors.
“We are continuing to make our justice fairer, less traumatic, quicker and less expensive for all participants, especially victim-survivors of D and sexual violence,” Attorney-General Mark Speakman said.
The investment will deliver more case management services to victim-survivors and enhance the database used by police to refer people onto support services.
Audio-visual link facilities in approximately 50 NSW courts and tribunals will also be expanded to allow victim-survivors to give evidence remotely, thus minimising trauma.
Court-appointed officers will also be trained to cross-examine survivors, after laws made last year that prevent self-represented defendants examining domestic violence complainants.
“It’s an absolute travesty that one-in-six people across our great country suffer from sexual harassment or violence from a current or former partner,” Mr Perrottet said.
“We have made big inroads over a period of time but it’s still a blight on our state and nation. As a government and a people, we need to do better.”
Sexual violence survivor and anti-violence advocate Amanda Morgan, who is the founder of Make a Seat Australia, said these changes were not only necessary, but long overdue.
“I feel this injection of money is so important … it’s going to change lives,” she said.
“Having an integration like this will mean we do have education, support and communication between different services.”
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