Indigenous affairs

Safer at home

The Wungening Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Jess Rowe.

The Keeping Women Safe in their Homes program run by the Salvation Army is set to receive $54.6 million in federal government funding, as part of $1.3 billion allocated to prevent family violence in the recent budget.

It was announced on Tuesday in the 2022 Federal Budget that $1.3 billion in funding will go towards programs that are identified in the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children over the next six years.

The Keeping Women Safe in their Homes program provides women with technology aimed at making their homes safer and more secure.

Due to the dramatic increase in the number of women who have been subjected to technology-based abuse, such as having their phones tracked or hidden cameras planted in their homes, the program has partnered with security company Protective Group.

National family violence specialist for the Salvation Army Alex Miller says the Protective Group are security specialists who undertake an audit of the home and recommend safety upgrades to the homes.

Ms Miller says that the Keeping Women Safe in their Homes program can provide women with “security doors, peep holes for their front door, window locks, [and] locks for the letter box…whatever they can do within the budget to increase safety in the home.”

The program is delivered through various services around the nation, including Starick Services and Wungening Aboriginal Corporation in Western Australia. Wungening Aboriginal Corporation is the lead agency for the Aboriginal Safe at Home program.

Daniel Morrison, Noongar/Yamitja/Gija, chief executive officer of Wungening Aboriginal Corporation. Photo: Supplied.

Leanne Barron, chief executive officer of Starick, says the program has various benefits.

“It prevents homelessness and supports women and children to remain connected with their community and social networks, which also increases their safety,” she says.

Previously, these services have found that Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by domestic violence.

“There definitely is a need for more Aboriginal Safe at Home programs,” Ms Barron says.

Ms Miller says that escaping family violence can be “more challenging [for Indigenous women] because they have much more interconnected kinship ties”.

“For people in remote communities, safety is more complex, and we need to think more about how we work with safety around the whole community, so it is a more costly endeavour for remote communities.”

Alex Miller

Ms Miller says that the program is for people who are at low to medium risk for family violence who want to remain in their homes without the perpetrator of violence.

“Risk is certainly higher across the board around domestic violence for Indigenous women.”

Daniel Morrison, chief executive officer of the Wungening Aboriginal Corporation, says: “We know that 1 in 5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 15 and over has experienced physical violence in the last 12-month period which makes this work incredibly important.

“The funding announced in the budget is of course welcome because we need all the extra support we can get in areas like preventing family and domestic violence.

“It is unclear if this funding will go to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, and what the impact of the federal election will mean practically for this money flowing to the communities where it is desperately needed.” 

Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston says: “Under the $54.6 million commitment to Keeping Women Safe in their Homes in the 2022-23 Budget there will be a stronger focus on improving access to the program in regional and remote communities and will be particularly beneficial for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who have cultural ties to their land and community.”

An artwork piece from the Wungening Aboriginal Corporation: Healing Indigenous People; Mind, Body and Soul. Photo: Jess Rowe.

Categories: Indigenous affairs, Women