Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Howard Government working to eliminate domestic violence

The Howard Government continues to take the issue of homelessness and domestic violence seriously and is contributing more funding to address this issue, including through the fifth Supported Accommodation Assistance Programme (SAAP) agreement which all states are being encouraged to sign.

The Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, Senator Kay Patterson, commenting on the release of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Female SAAP Clients and Children Escaping Domestic and Family Violence 2003-04, said three states had yet to sign up to the agreement.

“The release of this report is timely, as the Howard Government finalises a new SAAP Agreement with the states and territories, and I would encourage those states who have yet to sign up to do so immediately.

“It is important to note that while the Australian Government contributes significant funding to the SAAP Agreement, the states run the SAAP services.

“Throughout my negotiations with the states and territories I have been working hard to ensure that a proportion of our funding is directing into dealing with some of the issues around SAAP services which were identified in the SAAP review – including the 25% of people who return to SAAP services and how to best address the needs of women fleeing their homes due to domestic violence.

“In particular, I have been discussing with State and Territory Ministers how to reduce the likelihood of people returning to SAAP services and how to achieve this by ensuring crisis accommodation and other services are better integrated and don’t just work in isolation.

“Homelessness and domestic violence is a serious issue that won’t go away. It is vital that we have co-operation from all levels of government and that is why I have been insisting that states use some of the Federal Government funding to address these issues.

“Not only does the Howard Government support and fund SAAP agencies, it also funds other programs, such as the Women’s Safety Agenda, with funding of $75.7 million over four years and the $76 million program to help prevent and reduce family violence in indigenous communities.

“The Women’s Safety Agenda is working towards eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault by building on the Partnerships Against Domestic Violence initiative, the National Initiative to Combat Sexual Assault programs and the re-run of the Violence Against Women. Australia Says No campaign.

“The Howard Government’ record proves that is committed to reducing and responding to domestic and family violence and sexual assault in communities across Australia,” Senator Patterson said.