GIPPSLAND Women’s Health is deeply concerned about the cumulative impact of disasters on women, particularly in East Gippsland communities, after drought, fire and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
The complexity of what is unfolding in Gippsland is unprecedented, with rural and remote communities already severely disadvantaged.
Together with over 50 organisations committed to gender equity and women across Victoria, Gippsland Women’s Health has endorsed the Gender Equity Victoria initiative calling for state and federal governments to recognise the gendered impacts of COVID-19.
[The state government’s just announced $40.2 million in crisis accommodation and specialist services for people suffering or at risk of family violence. See more at the bottom of the article].
Women’s roles are fundamental to keeping our communities safe and functioning and it is important to recognise the increasing pressure on women, Gippsland Women’s Health said, and they’re supporting this joint statement and will continue to work towards gender equitable responses to the pandemic.
The joint statement includes ‘Ten Things Governments Should Do Now’ to ensure a gender lens on pandemic response and recovery. The following is a summary.
1. Fund gender and disaster workers across the state of Victoria.
2. Protect obstetric, gynaecological, sexual and reproductive health services from COVID-19.
3. Boost family violence prevention and response activities to cope with an increased demand.
4. Ensure all COVID-19 updates and communications and data gathering applies a gender lens.
5. Provide a wage subsidy to all workers in hard hit industries, including casual women workers.
6. Provide recognition and support to carers and educators at home.
7. Provide essential service workers with urgent Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and recognition of the risky work they are performing.
8. All essential workers should also have childcare funded by the Commonwealth for the duration of the pandemic.
9. Commence gender-based planning for post-pandemic reboot of the Victorian economy. Create a pandemic stand-down taskforce to prioritise investment in services and infrastructure required to ensure Victoria gets back on its feet swiftly. Ensure decision making is gender equal.
10. Get gender equality investment back on track. Ensure that all rebuild efforts and investment apply a gender lens so that women and men benefit equally from the long journey towards recovery.
We know that family violence risk increases in times of disaster. Please note that agencies are still providing safety and support services and are available for contact. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, please call Safe Steps 1800 015 188 (Victorian’s Family Violence Response Centre) www.safesteps.org.au or 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 (National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, always call 000.
Please refer to the Gippsland Stop Family Violence card for more support services at www.gwhealth.asn.au.
Safe place to escape family violence during coronavirus
The Victorian government will ensure women and children escaping family violence have a safe place to go and the support they need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams and Minister for Housing Richard Wynne today (Friday, April 10) announced the Victorian government will invest $40.2 million in crisis accommodation and specialist services for people suffering or at risk of family violence.
The government will invest $20 million in short-term accommodation for family violence victim survivors who do not feel safe isolating or recovering from coronavirus at home.
The accommodation will provide a safe haven women and children escaping family violence throughout the pandemic, and will include support to help them get back on their feet once it has passed.
An extra $20.2 million will help Victorian family violence services meet the expected increase in demand during the coronavirus pandemic and provide critical help for victim-survivors.
This includes nearly $10.4 million to help more women and children escaping family violence get access to safe accommodation and related support, and $5.1 million for more flexible support packages across the state.
Just under $5 million will go towards new technology and protective equipment for up to 120 family violence and sexual assault organisations, so they can adapt their services and keep their staff safe, while protecting and supporting victim survivors and their families.
The package also includes targeted funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to meet additional demand for family violence case management and crisis support.