Home General News NSW commits $30 million to make streets safer for women

NSW commits $30 million to make streets safer for women

by Anthony L. Gonzalez

Efforts to increase women’s safety in public places and combat harassment at work will greatly boost next week’s NSW budget.

Women’s Security Secretary Natalie Ward says the government is prioritizing her portfolio and will spend $30 million over two years installing CCTV and lighting along parks and trails.

“Women who travel after dark know that sometimes we take extra precautions,” she said on Saturday.

“This program seeks to address the symptoms and the root cause of why so many women feel unsafe in our cities, especially after dark.”

NSW commits $30 million to make streets safer for women

Pilots will be conducted at The Rocks in Sydney’s CBD, Parramatta Park to the west of the city, and up to eight other locations to be announced later.

Problem areas

Treasurer Matt Kean says the state wants to hear from women about unsafe areas and will set up a task force to advise where street lighting should be improved or cameras installed.

Women’s safety and economic participation are the main focuses of Tuesday’s budget, the first from Mr. Kean.

One barrier to improving both is workplace harassment, and the government has committed $4.8 million to combat it through a new task force involving the regulatory agency SafeWork NSW.

“Sexual harassment shouldn’t have a place in our community, and it certainly shouldn’t have a place in our workplaces,” said Mr. Kean.

He says the government is determined to implement the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Set The Standard report (which assessed Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces).

Fair Trade Minister Eleni Petinos says the SafeWork task force will train employers and ensure they take necessary steps to eliminate harassment, especially in male-dominated industries.

“If women experience sexual harassment in the workplace, they are less likely to be productive, and there is a greater chance of employee turnover,” she said.

Specific guidance will be provided for small businesses that do not have staff from larger companies.

Roads to Safety

About $69 million will also go to support services for domestic violence survivors to provide safe pathways out of abuse.

Ongoing funding will help improve integration between survivors, families, and support services, says survivor and advocate Amanda Morgan.

“This cash injection is so important,” Ms. Morgan said. “The programs exist; we don’t have to recreate the wheel…but they must go on.”

Attorney General Mark Speakman announced upgrades to courts and funding on Saturday to support past and future legislative changes.

Another $18 million will continue to upgrade audio-video links, which can help reduce trauma for survivors of domestic and family violence. Another $8 million over four years will go to specialized bailiffs to ask questions on behalf of people representing themselves in those cases.

Last year, the government banned direct cross-examining witnesses by self-represented perpetrators in domestic violence cases.

Mr. Speakman said cross-examination is an important part of a fair system but must be weighed against the trauma it can cause.

About $700,000 will also help prepare the judiciary and police for the criminalization of coercive control.

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