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Women's Refuge centres under threat

Thursday 28 Apr 2011 1:07 p.m.

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By Emma Brannam

For many battered women a refuge provides the only means of escape from a violent relationship, but the offer of a safe bed is now under threat.

‘Crisis shelters’ for women and children don't fit the criteria for the government's new family centred services fund as they are not considered frontline services.

“It's huge for our refuges, it's $8400 per refuge and although that may not seem like a lot of money for some people, for our refuges who already deliver the services on a very limited budget it's huge,” says Women’s Refuge CEO Heather Henare.

The Women's Refuge is losing a total of $700,000 from its annual budget.

It is not the only anti-violence group affected; the Government changes abolish four anti-violence funds worth $13 million a year.

They include Family Violence Education and the advocates for children who witness family violence.

They'll being replaced by the Family-Centred Services Fund worth $8 million and a transitional fund for family violence co-ordination.

The rest of the money is being diverted into existing anti-violence campaigns.

Women's rights campaigners say the government's making a terrible mistake.

“I think it's an absolute disgrace,” says political activist Sue Bradford.

“They're cutting away at the very services that provide absolutely essential support to women to children and to men affected by violence.”

The Women's Refuge want an urgent meeting with social development ministers.

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