NSW announces $300m funding and GPS tracking to tackle domestic violence

NSW Government has announced a $300 million budget package for victims of domestic violence

The NSW government announced on Saturday it would double funding for domestic violence prevention in this month’s state budget to $300 million over the next four years.

The new funding package was announced by NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward in Sydney.

High-risk domestic violence offenders will be fitted with GPS tracking devices for the first time in NSW to restrict their movements to ensure they do not come within designated exclusion zones.

Nearly $3 million will go to an Australian-first trial, involving fitting GPS tracking bracelets on high-risk offenders. Victims will also be given the opportunity to have their own GPS units, which will notify police if they get within a certain distance of their abusers.

Justice Minister Troy Grant said $2.9 million will be devoted to the GPS program over four years.

“We’re putting victims first by adding an extra layer of monitoring of domestic violence perpetrators,” he said.

“This is an exciting new use in domestic violence cases, because it’s not only for sentenced or paroled offenders, but can also be used to monitor compliance with bail conditions where a victim is protected by an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) with geographical restrictions.”

NSW woman of the year and domestic violence survivor Jen Armstrong said she would have felt safer if her former partner had been fitted with a tracking device. “I would have had the police taking care of that, I could focus on getting better and protecting my children.”

“Domestic violence is not about being punched in the face it’s about power and control and the erosion of self confidence” she said.

More than $50 million is expected to be allocated to specialised advice and care for women who are in a high risk category.

Pru Goward making domestic violence funding announcement. Photo: ABC News/Antoinette Lattouf
Pru Goward making domestic violence funding announcement. Photo: ABC News/Antoinette Lattouf

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Pru Goward said Safer Pathway, together with a $34 million court advocacy program, would help stop women having to tell their frightening stories numerous times. The program is now operating in six sites, with 19 new sites set to come online by 2017.

“They get so worn out and retraumatised by that constantly having to tell their own story that actually a lot of them find it easier not to do it,” she said.

Among the other initiatives in the package are a $20 million domestic and family violence innovation fund and $22 million for police high-risk offender teams.

NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the police response to domestic violence was moving towards a focus on prevention. “In the past we’ve focused on the perpetrators after they’ve committed their crimes,” he said. “This is about the perpetrators before they commit their next crime.”

There were 29,000 incidents of domestic violence-related assaults in NSW in the year to December 2015, the government says. It’s thought one in four women have experienced violence by an intimate partner.

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