The Member for Melton, Don Nardella MLA has welcomed the Andrews Labor Government’s breaking down the barriers of family violence through a program to provide shelter for the pets of women and children as they escape family violence.
Perpetrators of family violence often use threats of violence against the family pet as leverage over their victims.
State-wide family violence response service Safe Steps will be engaged to work with animal welfare agencies to develop a state-wide response.
Funding will be used to build better relationships between animal shelters and family violence services across Victoria.
Currently a number of small projects, largely supported by volunteers, care for the pets of women escaping family violence in a handful of locations.
The Labor Government wants to ensure greater access to these services to reduce gaps in coverage.
In separate submissions to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, Safe Steps and the RSPCA advocated better animal welfare services to tackle the issue of perpetrators using threats of violence against the family pet as leverage over victims.
The Labor Government will provide $100,000 to Safe Steps over the next four years.
The Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos, said:
Threats and violence against pets can prevent women and children from fleeing violence. This funding will give people greater confidence to seek safety and support.
The Andrews Labor Government is fully committed to reducing family violence in our community – this small program will make a huge difference in helping victims leave violent situations and get support.
Safe Steps CEO, Annette Gillespie, said:
Safe Steps is delighted the Labor Government recognises the vulnerability of pets in an abusive environment.
This funding will support those experiencing violence when making the difficult decision to leave knowing their loved pets will be cared for and be safe from harm.
Dr. Liz Walker, CEO, RSPCA Victoria said:
We are encouraged by the Government’s positive steps. As the only animal welfare organisation to have its submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence published, we look forward to being part of the development of a broader strategy to address the temporary sheltering and care of animals across the state.