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Wednesday, 30 May 1984
Page: 2141

Senator ZAKHAROV —My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. Can the Minister inform the Senate what progress has been achieved in the allocation of funding to Victorian projects under the women's emergency services program?

Senator GRIMES —In my absence the Acting Minister for Social Security, Dr Blewett , announced an agreement with Mrs Pauline Toner, the Victorian Minister for Community Welfare Services, for the disbursement of some $820,000 to Victoria under the women's emergency services program. As Senator Zakharov would know, the Victorian Government already provides significant funding to women's emergency services. The aim of the Commonwealth contribution is to improve the pay and conditions for refuge workers, to improve services to assist migrant residents and to provide more adequate funding for existing refuges generally.

Many Victorian refuges benefited from the disbursement of these funds. Three and a half new positions were created and payment of an establishment grant was made to a new refuge at Barwon. Some 11 1/2 new positions were created to bring all existing refuges in Victoria to a level of at least three and a half subsidised staff per refuge. There was expenditure on property purchases and establishment costs for the new interim accommodation service. Four and a half positions were created for refuges to provide ethnic workers for migrant residents and establishment costs associated with this were paid. There has been renovation of a refuge property for the Aboriginal Advancement League Women's Refuge and Mordialloc Half Way House. There has been the introduction of recreation leave provisions for all existing and new positions and the payment of a staff relief loading to all refuges.

Other changes include the provision of workers compensation coverage to match State provisions, the payment of new subsidised positions at the rate payable by the State, a grant to each refuge to provide more adequate levels of operating costs, the purchase of nine replacement vehicles, and a research and evaluation program on Victorian women's refuges. Many refuges in Victoria have benefited from the additional funds. I will provide Senator Zakharov with a full list of those assisted. The women's emergency services program took a long time to get under way, but now that the funding has gone out, I believe there is general satisfaction with the payments in the women's movement.