What we need in order to achieve equity and justice for women in the west

In the lead up to the federal election, Women’s Health West have thought about what we’d like to ask a government to commit to, so that we can achieve our vision of equity and justice for women in the west. Read our key ‘asks’ here.

We need a federal government that prioritises equity and justice, so women in Melbourne’s west can lead safe and healthy lives.

This election is an opportunity for political leaders to show that they will do this by committing:

Resources to meet the demand for family violence services.

This financial year so far, Women’s Health West have received 8605 family violence referrals from police across Melbourne’s west.

The number of referrals we receive has steadily increased year on year.

Unfortunately, though, the majority of funds we receive to respond to this demand on our services are becoming more and more short-term.

Three years ago, only 22 per cent of our funding was made up of fixed-term (for example, 12 month) contracts, and the rest was ongoing. This year, 56 per cent of our funding is fixed-term.

Ongoing funds are vital to providing responsive and accessible family violence services to women and children at the time they need them.

2. Funding to prevent violence and ill-health before they occur

The good news is that violence against women is preventable.

We know that the drivers of violence against women centre around gender inequity. We know there are lots of actions we can take to stop violence well before it occurs. But there is very little funding dedicated to prevention.

In order to achieve equity and justice for women, we need a sustained investment in preventing violence before it occurs.

Women’s Health West runs programs with women in our community that increase health and wellbeing and advance gender equity.

Funding for this work has not increased in the 30 years Women’s Health West has been delivering these programs. We need a funding commitment to preventing violence and ill-health before they occur.

3. Guarantee women’s sexual and reproductive health rights

It is vital that women and girls have control over decisions that affect their sexual and reproductive health at every stage of their lives.

We need a commitment to ensuring accessible sexual and reproductive services for women, when and where they are needed.

Accessible services mean women are able to take control of sexual and reproductive health decision-making. Sexual and reproductive health autonomy is crucial to women’s ability to complete their education, earn an independent income and to live and enjoy safe, healthy lives.

4. Ensuring financial security and stable, affordable housing for women

Women are more likely to live free from violence when they have financial security and access to affordable and stable housing at every stage of their lives.

Family violence is the single biggest cause of homelessness in Victoria.

Poverty and financial hardship affect over a third of women who are escaping family violence. Women experiencing family violence often end up accessing support from homelessness services, because they lack the financial resources needed to secure housing. This is unacceptable.

Women need a safe place to call home.

The stats used here are from the Council to Homeless Person’s ‘Homelessness and Domestic Violence‘ fact sheet.