NT must act to protect women and kids, says Alice Springs shelter

Di Gipey; Photo; ABC

The Alice Springs Women’s Shelter has demanded the NT Government urgently implement legislative and policy changes recommended by Coroner Greg Cavanagh to help protect women and children impacted by domestic violence.

ASWS CEO Di Gipey said the Coroner’s report into the deaths of two women after long histories of domestic violence again highlighted the pressing need to make real changes that will make women and children safe.

“Coroner Greg Cavanagh’s findings are extensive and make horrifying reading, but sadly they don’t tell us what we already know in the NT,” Ms Gipey said.

“Yes domestic violence is out of control, the justice system doesn’t adequately protect women, and yes, there needs to be new approaches.

“But the big questions are when will the Coroner’s recommendations be put in place and when will our Governments and the wider community accept we are already paying far too high a price by not acting or dragging our heels.

“The ASWS is asking the NT Government to urgently implement the Coroner’s recommendations, particularly in regard to changing legislation to allow footage captured on new police body cameras to be used as evidence in chief.

“This takes the onus off women to provide evidence against their partners.”

Ms Gipey said support for alternative intervention strategies was also a priority.

“We cannot rely on the criminal justice system to solely protect women and children from domestic violence.

“Frontline services such as ASWS working in partnership with police, health and community organisations have a proven role to play in preventing violence and making sure women and children are safe.

“But our programs often face an insecure future due to the short-term nature of some Government funding.

“This can make continuity of service delivery and staffing a challenge, which in turn has a direct impact on vulnerable women and children.

“Currently ASWS has no guarantee of funding after June 30th 2017, apart from one position which ends June, 2018.

“Demand on our services is increasing and we are hoping to introduce and expand innovative programs that will make a real difference to the safety of women and children.

“But we can’t do this with no guarantee of funding security from year to year. This increases the vulnerability of our service and in turn the vulnerability of women and children who are already at risk.

“If tackling our unacceptably high rates of domestic violence, which should be a cause for national shame, is a real priority for our leaders and the community we cannot afford to waste any more time talking.

“We have to just do it.”

 

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