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Temporary accommodation, domestic violence support programs strengthened in Central Australia

Callan Morse -

Women and children in Central Australia are set to be better supported with two organisations receiving additional government investment to supply temporary accommodation and prevent domestic violence.

Through the federal government's A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia plan, Aboriginal Hostels Limited and Women's Safety Services of Central Australia (WoSSCA) will each receive multi-million dollar allocations to support central Australian families.

Aboriginal Hostels Limited will receive $3.5 million to construct up to 20 additional short-term beds at Alice Springs' Apmere Mwerre Visitor Park, offering families a safe place to sleep and to seek support. The organisation plays an important role in supporting First Nations communities, providing a home away from home with safe, affordable and culturally appropriate accommodation.

Aboriginal Hostels Limited CEO Dave Chalmers said the additional accommodation provided by the project will meet a clear community need for safe, affordable and culturally appropriate accommodation.

"This funding will add to the number of beds available at AHL's Apmere Mwerre Visitor Park in Alice Springs and we are pleased to be part of the Australian and Northern Territory Governments' important work in Central Australia," Mr Chalmers said.

The initiative will also see WoSSCA receive $4.1 million over four years to fund six additional roles for the Central Australia region.

The increase in staffing, which includes an additional case manager position, will enable WoSSCA to clear their existing wait list in the remote communities of Yuendumu, Papunya, Ntaria and Ti Tree, reducing the need for people to travel to Alice Springs to seek assistance.

WoSSCA will also engage a new children's advocate who will support the almost 30 per cent of children who currently make up WoSSCA's clients.

Last financial year, WoSSCA helped more than 1000 women and children in Alice Springs and surrounding areas, delivering crucial assistance ranging from temporary accommodation to proactive case management, connecting those in need with organisations, services and programs that aim to prevent and respond to gender based violence.

WoSSCA chief executive Larissa Ellis said the funding allocation will increase the organisation's capacity throughout Central Australia.

"Our services deliver a crucial support for women and children in Alice Springs and surrounding communities and with this funding we're ensuring that if women need our help, we can be better positioned to provide it," Ms Ellis said.

"When it comes to family violence – where you live shouldn't dictate how much support you can get, that's why we're focussing on our services for regional communities to ensure that support is where it's needed most."

The federal government's investment through the A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia plan responds to calls from First Nations communities, the Central Australian Aboriginal Leadership Group, service providers and organisations for increased domestic violence and accommodation services.

Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, said the practical investment in support services and programs will help build stronger and safer communities in Alice Springs and Central Australia.

"The provision of additional caseworkers and temporary accommodation places are incredibly important in ensuring women and families will have a safe place to stay," Minister McCarthy said.

Member for Lingiari Marion Scrymgour said the best way to build stronger, safer communities in Central Australia is through practical investments in the services and programs that make a difference.

"We are committed to working with Central Australian community leaders and supporting frontline organisations to protect and support First Nations women and children experiencing family violence, that's why we're taking practical action at a local level," she said.

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