Marion Hosking and Leonie McGuire have come away from a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition encouraged about the restoration of women’s refuges across the State, including Taree.
The feminist activists met with Luke Foley and his policy adviser, Chloe Bennett at Parliament House to discuss Labor Party policy in relation to restoring specialist domestic violence refuges in NSW if Labor is successful at the next election.
Also present was Anna Kerr, the principal solicitor of the feminist Legal Centre in Sydney.
Leonie and Marion, who are part of the NSW Coalition for Women's Refuges, say the meeting was made possible because of Marion’s longstanding relationship with the Labor Party.
The women discussed with Mr Foley the shortcomings they see with the Going Home Staying Home policy, introduced by the NSW Government in 2014, which saw the Samaritans responsible for refuges that support people affected by homelessness and domestic violence combined.
While Leonie said they don’t deny homeless people need support, she said their needs are different and it is not appropriate for women fleeing domestic violence to be accommodated somewhere with people who, for example, might have drug and alcohol issues.
Another concern they have is the amount of women fleeing domestic violence who are being turned away from refuges because the beds are “filled with homeless people”.
“Statistics from the NSW Coalition for Women's Refuges can clearly show the number of turnaways.”
Leonie and Marion said Mr Foley was sympathetic, listened and was very encouraging.
“He was giving us a sense that they want women to be safe and they want to restore women’s refuges,” said Leonie.
Marion added that Mr Foley was obviously impressed by the work of the NSW Coalition for Women's Refuges.
While at Parliament House, the women also met informally with Labor’s Penny Sharpe.
“We have an offer also to meet with a Janet Rice of the Greens to discuss restoring quality services," said Leonie.