Efforts to increase women’s safety in public places and combat workplace harassment will both receive a major boost in next week’s NSW budget.
Women’s Safety Minister Natalie Ward says the government is prioritising her portfolio and will spend $30 million over two years installing CCTV and lighting along parks and pathways.
“Women travelling in the dark know that sometimes we take extra precautions,” she said on Saturday.
“This program seeks to address both the symptoms, as well as the cause of why so many women feel unsafe in our cities, especially after dark.”
Pilots will be conducted in The Rocks in Sydney’s CBD, Parramatta Park in the city’s west and up to eight other locations to be announced later.
Treasurer Matt Kean says the state wants to hear from women about unsafe areas and will set up a taskforce to advise where street lighting should be upgraded or cameras installed.
Women’s safety and economic participation are key focuses of Tuesday’s budget, Mr Kean’s first.
One barrier to improving both is workplace harassment and the government has allocated $4.8 million to combat it via a new taskforce involving regulator SafeWork NSW.
“Sexual harassment should have no place in our community and it certainly should have no place in our workplaces,” Mr Kean said.
He says the government is committed to implementing recommendations from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Set The Standard report (which reviewed commonwealth parliamentary workplaces).
Fair Trading Minister Eleni Petinos says the SafeWork taskforce will educate employers and make sure they take the necessary steps to eradicate harassment, especially in male-dominated industries.
“When women experience sexual harassment in the workplace, they’re less likely to be productive and that workplace is more likely to experience staff turnover,” she said.
Specific guidance will be provided for small businesses lacking the human resources staff of larger companies.
Pathways to safety
Some $69 million will also go to support services for domestic violence survivors to provide safe pathways out of abuse.
Continued funding will help improve integration between survivors, families and support services, says survivor and advocate Amanda Morgan.
“This injection of money is so important,” Ms Morgan said. “The programs exists, we don’t need to recreate the wheel … but they need to go on.”
Attorney-General Mark Speakman also on Saturday announced upgrades to courts and funding to support past and future legislative changes.
A further $18 million will continue upgrades to audio-video links, which can help reduce trauma for survivors in domestic and family violence matters. Another $8 million over four years will go to specialist court officers to ask questions on behalf of people representing themselves in those matters.
The government banned direct cross examination of witnesses by self-represented accused in domestic violence cases last year.
Mr Speakman says cross examination is an important part of a fair system but has to be balanced against the trauma it can cause.
Some $700,000 will also help prepare the judiciary and police for the criminalisation of coercive control.