Saturday, 15 May 2021

Funding for women's shelters

is not something for which anyone should have to plead. It is simply one of those absolutely essential services which should be funded, and funded adequately, without question.

I don't know who thought that cutting funds to the main women's shelter in the CBD was a good idea. I am not in the least bit interested if the funds were "diverted" somewhere else. That shelter is needed.

Originally the shelter was set up by the Catholic church. It was run by nuns. It was run by nuns up until about twenty-five years ago. What is more it was well run. Many of the women who sought refuge there were helped to find accommodation and employment. They were given legal assistance and much more.

When the Senior Cat "retired" he was asked to help with the maintenance work at this shelter. The man who had been volunteering could no longer do the job. Our friend P...., a nun, asked if the Senior Cat would do some repairs in his workshop. He was more than happy to help. What else needed to be done?

There was plenty of work. Locks needed to be changed on doors. Doors needed to be rehung. Cupboard doors needed repairing. Beds needed repairing. The number of drawers and chairs which needed to be pulled apart and re-glued seemed to grow. Washers on taps needed to be replaced and, once, an entire shower fitting had come away from a wall. 

Allowing a man, any man, into a women's shelter is always a difficult business but the Senior Cat went in and out for more than twenty years - until he gave up driving his car. Even after that he would repair things brought to him. The women would sometimes go to a nun in alarm, "There's a man in here!" They would be reassured and occasionally even speak to him. One or two would even help him with what he had been asked to do. 

The place was run on a bare minimum of money. It was all raised by  the Catholic church and donations. 

And then the government decided to take over. Instead of a nun on a minimum salary they appointed someone on a much bigger salary. Other salaried people came in as nuns slowly left. Our friend P... stopped working there at the age of 75. The Senior Cat grew too old to volunteer his help even at home. 

The place is different now. It may be better, the same, or worse. I don't know. What I do know is that it is absolutely essential. It does not even begin to cover the need there is. The past year and a bit has made it even more important. The "lock downs" and other restrictions have increased the level of domestic violence. More women have sought shelter than ever before. Why cut funding to it now, of all times?

I put it to someone who sits on one of the many committees responsible for such things, "Isn't it better to fund the shelter than keep one man in prison for murdering his partner?" 

In more ways than one the cost of funding the shelter surely has to be the better option. Why then was I greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh? 


Anonymous said...

Was there not some talk recently of the “alleged” victims being able to stay in their accommodation (close to schools, etc) and the “alleged” perpetrators being put up in hotels? (Hotels, not a re-purposed down-at-heel old house like the women’s refuge I helped out at, overseas.)

I can see the value of the women and children staying in their “home”, but it means the “perpetrator” can find them easily.

Any way, domestic violence needs much more time and money spent on its eradication.


catdownunder said...

yes, the sad thing is that they cannot stay safely in their own homes. I wonder at bureaucracy suggesting this!