On White Ribbon Day, Greens Senator and spokesperson for women Lee Rhiannon is calling on the Federal government to renew funding for the award winning 'Bsafe' program which provides personal safety alarms to women and children at risk of domestic violence, linking them to emergency services and allowing them to remain in their own homes.
Senator Rhiannon's Bsafe motion in the Senate is in full below. The program won the national Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award in 2010.
"The successful Bsafe program ran as a pilot in regional Victoria for three years to 2010 at the small cost of $340,000, but failed to secure continued funding despite enormous support from the women and children who had come to rely on this simple but effective alarm system," Senator Rhiannon said.
"It is cruel that women and children have been made to hand back their Bsafe alarms, when such a relatively small sum of money afforded them the security to remain living in their homes and attend local schools.
"The Bsafe program was proven to be enormously effective at a fraction of the cost that would be expended moving a woman and children out of their home into a refuge or new housing.
"The program continues for those women and children most at risk, funded by the goodwill of public donations, while the buck-passing between state and federal government continues.
"The federal government must urgently commit to continuing Bsafe in regional Victoria and should look to expand the program across the country.
"Domestic violence workers have reported that women find the alarm system far easier than making a 000 call, which can take time and inflame a dangerous situation.
"I raised funding for the Bsafe program in the recent budget estimates hearings and will be pursuing the matter further in future," Senator Rhiannon said.
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a) The 25th November 2011 commemorates the United Nation's International White Ribbon Day for the elimination of violence against women;
b) Domestic violence occurs in every geographic area and in all socio-economic and cultural groups in Australia, in particular in regional and rural Australia and Indigenous communities;
c) The prevention and elimination of domestic violence is a goal of the Australian government, and yet the government has failed to fund the continuation of the pilot Bsafe program, which successfully operated in regional Victoria from 2007 to 2010, providing personal safety alarms to women and children at risk of domestic violence to prevent further violence and enable them to remain in their own homes and communities;
d) The cessation of the Bsafe pilot program, which was funded through a three year $340,000 federal grant that ended in December 2010, caused distress to the women and children and their families and friends who had come to rely on it;
e) There is an extraordinary level of support for Bsafe from the beneficiaries, community workers, police, women's groups and the broader community across the country;
f) The Bsafe program won the national Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award in 2010;
g) The Bsafe program was extremely cost effective, costing approximately $1,000 for the two safety alarms, and provided enormous benefits in reducing the risk and breaking the cycle of domestic violence, giving assurance to vulnerable women and children and allowing them to return to participating fully in society, as detailed in the Bsafe evaluation report;
h) In Victoria the community sector is ready and eager to expand this potentially life-saving resource to women across the state.
i) One woman who was a recipient of a Bsafe alarm asked "How much does my life cost?"
2) Calls on the Government to:
a) Urgently fund the continuation of the successful Bsafe pilot program in regional Victoria to allow women and children continued access to the service;
b) Fund the extension of the Bsafe program to other regions in Victoria and into other states.