Peak body urges sticking to the Plan and supporting women’s specialist services

Wesnet CEO, Karen Bentley today conveyed a strong message from Wesnet members that a key part of addressing violence against women continues to be overlooked.

Wesnet – the national peak body for women’s specialist domestic and family violence services, representing around 350 women’s refuges, shelters, safe houses and information/referral services – urged governments to keep moving forward with and double down on their commitment to the second National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Girls.

Members are relieved that no Royal Commission will be slowing the urgent work and reforms that are needed to end this epidemic of violence against women and other forms gender-based violence. “The time for consultation is done. It is now time for action.” said Ms Bentley, who has been working in the sector since the late 1990s.  

“There has been real and substantial progress in the state of knowledge and the evidence base around what needs to be done across all of society to end this. We look to the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, to take the lead in pulling the levers for change.”   

In response to the announcements following Wednesday’s national cabinet meeting, Ms Bentley said: “One thing that remains absolutely clear is that we need more resourcing on the frontline in specialist services to help women escape violence and keep them safe. While gender inequality is the root cause – and this must be addressed over time – women’s specialist services can and do stop women being hurt and killed today.

“These services need to be accessible for all women, regardless of where they live. If we’re serious about saving lives, these services need to be culturally appropriate and sufficiently staffed, and the workforce needs to be acknowledged and remunerated for the skill and expertise they bring.

“We are again seeing a heartbreaking spate of femicide and the public sentiment is clear: This cannot keep happening. All of us are seeing this splashed across every newspaper and media platform. But beyond this media frenzy, the many of the 350+ specialist domestic and family services across Australia will continue to turn away women and children and others experiencing gender-based violence in unacceptable numbers. The single most effective thing that the Commonwealth and State Governments can do right now is increase funding for specialist services. The National Plan recognises the centrality of women’s specialist services, and this now needs backing up with adequate resourcing. 

“The new funding for the Leaving Violence Payments is very welcome, as are the initiatives relating to online and children’s safety, but longer term measures need to be balanced with emergency measures that save this generation of women, as well as the next.”



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If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence:

  • In an emergency, call the police on 000 
  • Call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to speak with a trained counsellor from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service  
  • Access online counselling at