Candles, as well as petitions, will be given out at a Sydney rally to shine a light on the state wide closure of independent women’s homelessness services.
University students have organised the vigil for a Thursday night, 24 July at Pitt St Mall at 5:30pm, with the hope of gaining the attention and signatures of late-night shoppers.
The students are hoping to collect 10,000 signatures for a petition being submitted to state parliament at the end of August, which asks for the restoration of all funding to women-specific homelessness services.
Due to funding reforms under the incumbent Staying Home Going Home Program six of Sydney’s women’s shelters, including its only girls shelter, are facing closure. Over 90 homelessness services are being cut statewide.
Women support groups fear the losses could significantly weaken Sydney’s network of independent women’s refuges, which have functioned as a safety net for women at risk of homelessness for forty years.
Convener of the Women’s Electoral Lobby NSW, Jozefa Sobski, says that she is deeply concerned about the impact on women’s refuges the radical reform and reorganization of specialized homelessness services will have.
The vigil has been organised with particular concern for the welfare of women already at risk of homelessness, such as women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as students.
Convener of the Asian Australian Alliance Women’s Forum and spokesperson for Students for Women’s Only Services, Anjana Regmi, says, “The changes will mean women will fail to access support due to loss of expertise and community rapport”.
Amy Knox, Women’s Officer of the NSW branch of the National Union of Students hopes the vigil will be, “a practical way to alleviate the impact of the reforms and recognise the sadness of these closures”.
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